Search by IRC, Industry, sector, training package, IRC skills forecast or occupation.

ESI Generation


This page provides information and data on the Electricity Supply Industry (ESI) Generation sector, which is one component of the Utilities industry.

The ESI Generation sector in Australia has provided an estimated annual revenue of $24.26 billion, adding $5 billion to the Australian economy in 2017. The sector employs around 11,700 people in fossil fuel and renewable energy generation.

Although the demand for electricity is expected to increase over the next five years, public concern about the environment represents a significant challenge for the industry. This will continue to drive the development of reliable renewable energy, which will be a major focus into the future.

Vocational education and training is required for occupations involved in:

  • Plant operations support
  • Systems operations
  • Plant operations
  • Electrical and mechanical maintenance
  • Wind generation maintenance.

Nationally recognised training for ESI Generation occupations is delivered under the UEP – Electricity Supply Industry – Generation Sector Training Package

For more information on ESI Transmission, Distribution and RailGas and Water industry sectors, please visit the respective pages.

Information sourced from the ESI Generation IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast.

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

IRC and skills forecasts

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

The 2018 employment level in the Electricity Generation industry sector is at a slightly higher level to the year 2000, having fluctuated over the years in between. The level is projected to grow slightly until 2023 to 15,000. The employment level in the Electricity Supply industry peaked in 2013 and has been declining until 2017. 2018 saw an increase in employment to 25,300, but the level is projected to decline again over the next five years until 2023. A new version of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification came out in 2006, which may affect the employment level time series.

Chemical, Gas, Petroleum and Power Generation Plant Operator is one of the largest employing occupations in the Electricity Generation industry sector, making up just under 12% of the workforce. The employment level for this occupation is projected to remain at the same level to 2023. Employment levels for Electricians is expected to grow by 4.5%, but levels for Electrical Engineers is projected to decline by just under 3%.

Training trends

Training snapshot

Program enrolments and completions have increased since 2015 with 400 program enrolments in ESI Generation Sector Training Package qualifications during 2017, and 52 completions. The majority of training was at the certificate III & IV levels and the main qualification areas were Maintenance, and Systems Operations and Support. The main intended occupations for the training was Power Generation Plant Operator, followed by Electrical Engineering Technician. There were also over 7,000 subject-only (no program) enrolments during 2017, a strong decrease from the previous years.

Training in this sector was predominantly carried out by private training providers (87%), however qualifications in Maintenance were equally provided by TAFE institutes and private training providers (50%). Funding came exclusively from domestic fee-for-service.

Twenty-eight percent of students enrolled during 2017 were from Queensland and 22% were from Victoria.

For more data specific to your occupation, industry or training package, visit NCVER’s VET students by industry.

For more data specific to your region, visit NCVER’s Atlas of Total VET. If you are prompted to log in, select cancel and you will continue to be directed to the program.

If you are interested in extracting NCVER data to construct tables with data relevant to you, sign up for a VOCSTATS account.

Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

As identified in the ESI Generation IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast, the top priority skills required for the ESI Generation sector are:

  • High voltage
  • Hazard management
  • Digital
  • Instrumentation
  • Health and safety.

According to the job vacancy data, the top advertised VET-related occupation in the Electricity Supply industry are Electricians, and Other Building and Engineering Technicians. Job vacancy data also suggests the top generic skills in demand are communication and planning.

The ESI Generation IRC skills forecast highlights a pressing need to ensure the ESI Generation workforce is properly resourced and skilled to meet the demands of new technologies, automation and increased focus on renewable energy technologies. The top generic skills listed in order of priority are:

  • Design mindset / Thinking critically / System thinking / Solving problems
  • Technology
  • Science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM)
  • Managerial / Leadership
  • Learning agility / Information literacy / Intellectual autonomy and self-management.

The Generation IRC Skills Forecast highlights a few challenges and opportunities within this sector:

  • Funding and apprenticeships: Variations in jurisdictional funding and traineeship arrangements are impacting training delivery which may lead to capacity constraints for employers and registered training organisations (RTOs). A reduced apprentice recruitment and loss of industry knowledge and skills due to an aging workforce is likely to result in fewer RTOs providing training in this field.
  • Technology and renewables: There has been a significant rise in renewable energy generation (and therefore a transition away from carbon-based generation) and an increasing operation of automated and new technologies. These new technologies will require new skills and upskilling for the workforce to ensure relevancy of skills with greater demand for skills in renewable energy systems, operating new systems and interfaces, a robust understanding of autonomous systems, and big data analytical skills.

When reviewing key industry reports (see Relevant research section below), a recurring theme in the ESI Generation sector is the emergence of new technologies. The recent Independent review into the future security of the national electricity market: blueprint for the future highlights significant implications for the ESI Generation sectors skilling needs as a result of emerging technologies and services. The speed of technological change could result in skill gaps in the sector if the current and future workforce is not adequately trained. 

The way in which electricity is generated is undergoing a period of technological change. Industry reports (see Relevant research section below), and the ESI Generation IRC skills forecast, have identified this shift in technology and automation, along with an increased focus on renewable energy technologies, as key challenges in skill development for the workforce.

Links and resources

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2018, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal.       

  • by ANZSIC 3 digit employment projections to May 2023
    • 261 Electricity Generation
    • 260 Electricity Supply, nfd.
  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2023
    • 2992 Chemical & Gas & Petroleum and Power Generation Plant Operators
    • 3232 Metal Fitters and Machinists
    • 3411 Electricians
    • 2333 Electrical Engineers.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018, Employed persons by Industry group of main job (ANZSIC), sex, state and territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 – EQ06, viewed 1 November 2018 .

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 3 digit, 2000 to 2018, May Quarter
    • 261 Electricity Generation
    • 260 Electricity Supply, nfd.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, 2016 Census – employment, income and unpaid work, TableBuilder. Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data.

  • Employment level by:
    • 261 Electricity Generation
    • 4 digit level occupations to identify the relevant VET-related occupations in the industry as a proportion of the total workforce.

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET students and courses from the following training package or qualifications:

  • UEP – Electricity Supply Industry - Generation Sector Training Package
  • Maintenance
    • UEP40312 - Certificate IV in ESI Generation Maintenance (Mechanical)
    • UEP40412 - Certificate IV in ESI Generation Maintenance (Fabrication)
    • UEP40512 - Certificate IV in ESI Generation Maintenance - Electrical Electronics
    • UEP50306 - Diploma of ESI Generation (Maintenance)
    • UEP50312 - Diploma of ESI Generation (Maintenance)
  • System Operations and Support
    • UEP20112 - Certificate II in ESI Generation - Operations Support
    • UEP30112 - Certificate III in ESI Generation - Systems Operations
    • UEP30206 - Certificate III in ESI Generation (Operations)
    • UEP30212 - Certificate III in ESI Generation - Operations
    • UEP40112 - Certificate IV in ESI Generation - Systems Operations
    • UEP40206 - Certificate IV in ESI Generation (Operations)
    • UEP40212 - Certificate IV in ESI Generation - Operations
    • UEP40612 - Certificate IV in Large Scale Wind Generation - Electrical
    • UEP50206 - Diploma of ESI Generation (Operations)
    • UEP50212 - Diploma of ESI Generation (Operations).

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

Data covers a range of selected student and training characteristics in the following categories and years:

  • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 program enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 subject enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 program completions.

Total VET students and courses data is reported for the calendar year. Program enrolments are the qualifications, courses and skill sets in which students are enrolled in a given period. For students enrolled in multiple programs, all programs are counted. Program completion indicates that a student has completed a structured and integrated program of education or training. Location data uses student residence. Subject enrolment is registration of a student at a training delivery location for the purpose of undertaking a module, unit of competency or subject. For more information on the terms and definitions, please refer to the Total VET students and courses: terms and definitions document.

Percentages are rounded to one decimal place. This can lead to situations where the total sum of proportions in a chart may not add up to exactly 100%.

Low counts (less than 5) are not reported to protect client confidentiality.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the ESI Generation IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2018, Labor Insight Real-time Labor Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2018, <>.

Data shown represent most requested generic skills, occupations and employers according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2015 and June 2018 filtered by ANZSIC and ANZSCO classification levels listed below.

  • Generic skills / Occupations
    • Machinery Operators and Drivers, Technicians and Trades Workers
    • 26 Electricity Supply.
  • Employers
    • 3411 Electricians
    • 3129 Other Building and Engineering Technicians
    • 3999 Other Miscellaneous Technicians and Trades Workers
    • 3212 Motor Mechanics
    • 3121 Architectural, Building and Surveying Technicians
    • 26 Electricity Supply.
Updated: 21 Dec 2018
To Top