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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 an estimated annual revenue of $17.7 billion, adding $6.3 billion to the Australian economy in 2015–16. The sector employs around 11,500 people in fossil fuel and renewable generation.

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 is delivered under the UEP – Electricity Supply Industry – Generation Sector Training Package

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

Information sourced from the ESI Generation Industry Reference Committee Skills Forecast 2017.

IRC and skills forecasts

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

The 2017 employment level in the Electricity Generation industry is at a similar level to the year 2000, having fluctuated over the years in between. The level is projected to decline over the next five years until 2022. The employment level in the Electricity Supply industry not further defined (nfd) peaked in 2013 and has been declining since then. The level is projected to decline further over the next five years until 2022. 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 increase slightly over the next five years until 2022.

Training trends

Training snapshot

There were just over 350 program enrolments in ESI Generation Sector Training Package qualifications during 2016, and 33 completions. The majority of training was at the certificate III & IV levels and aimed towards the occupation of Chemical, Gas, Petroleum and Power Plant Operator. 

There were also nearly 11,500 subject-only enrolments during 2016, the majority of which were in the following units of competency:

  • Coordinate and direct switching program (approximately 1,800 subject-only enrolments in 2016)
  • Develop H.V. switching programs (2,300)
  • Operate local H.V. switchgear (2,500)
  • Operate local L.V. Switchgear (570)
  • Perform switching to a switching program (2,500).

Over three quarters of training during 2016 was carried out by private training providers and nearly all training was funded by domestic fee-for-service. Nearly half of students enrolled during 2016 were from Queensland.

There were insufficient enrolments in apprenticeships or traineeships to allow analysis.

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

Infographic title: Priority skills: 2017 skills forecast,, Infographic data,, Title: Top priority skills,, renewable technology, adaptability, plant operations, electrical information and communication technology,, Title: Top generic skills,, technology, science technology engineering mathematics (stem), learning agility / information literacy / intellectual autonomy and self-management, managerial / leadership, language literacy and numeracy (LLN), Infographic title: Skills and occupations in demand: job vacancies,, Title: Top 5 occupations,, electrical distribution trades workers, metal fitters and machinists, building and engineering technicians (not specified), architectural building and surveying technicians, electricians,, Title: Top 5 employers,, Queensland Department of Energy and Water Supply, Origin Energy, Transgrid, AGL Energy, S A Power Networks,, Title: Top 5 locations,, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Infographic source, Priority skills source: ESI generation Industry Reference Committee  Skills Forecast 2017, Job vacancy occupations in demand source: Burning Glass Technologies’ Labor Insight ,Real Time Labor Market Information tool

Industry insights on skills needs

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

  • renewable technology
  • adaptability
  • plant operations
  • electrical
  • information and communication technology.

According to the job vacancy data, the top advertised VET-related occupation (Technicians and Trades Workers and Machinery Operators and Drivers) in the Electricity Supply industry is Electrical Distribution Trades Workers, and the top advertised location for VET-related occupations is Queensland.

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:

  • technology
  • science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM)
  • learning agility/information literacy/intellectual autonomy and self-management
  • managerial/leadership
  • language, literacy and numeracy (LLN).

A recurring theme in key industry reports relating to 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

Industry associations and advisory bodies

Australian Energy Council

Australian Energy Market Commission

Australian Energy Regulator

Clean Energy Council

Energy Networks Australia

Energy Skills Queensland

Energy Skills SA

Future Energy Skills

Industry Skills Advisory Council NT

Pump Industry Australia

Safe Work Australia

The Australian Power Institute

Utilities and Electrotechnology Industry Training Advisory Board - NSW

Utilities, Engineering, Electrical and Automotive Training Council - WA

Utility Market Intelligence


Employee associations

Australian Services Union

Electrical Trades Union


Relevant research

Quick clean energy jobs for Victoria - Clean Energy Council (Australia)

Renewable energy jobs: future growth in Australia - Climate Council

Electricity network transformation roadmap: final report - Energy Network Australia; CSIRO

A changing electricity industry, a changing workforce: a discussion paper on the future skilling implications of the smart grid - Energy Skills Queensland

Electricity network transformation roadmap: future workforce skilling impacts - Energy Skills Queensland

Energy industry apprenticeship progression management system: final report including future sustainability strategies - E-Oz Energy Skills Australia

Environmental scan 2015: E-Oz Energy Skills Australia - E-Oz Energy Skills Australia

Independent review into the future security of the national electricity market: blueprint for the future - Finkel et al.

Electricity, gas, water & waste services (industry profiles 2016) - South Australian Training and Skills Commission


Data sources and notes

Department of Employment, 2017, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal.      

  • by ANZSIC 3 digit employment projections to May 2022
    • 261 Electricity Generation
    • 260 Electricity Supply, nfd.
  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations , employment projections to May 2022
    • 2992 Chemical & Gas & Petroleum and Power Generation Plant Operators
    • 3232 Metal Fitters and Machinists
    • 3411 Electricians
    • 2333 Electrical Engineers.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, Employed persons by Industry group of main job (ANZSIC), sex, state and territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 – EQ06, viewed 1 September 2017 <>.

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 3 digit, 2000 to 2017, 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

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 program enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016 subject enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016 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 Industry Reference Committee Skills Forecast 2017.

Burning Glass Technologies: Labor insight – real-time labor market information tool <> 2017.

  • Job advertisements from all of Australia from January 2014 to August 2017 are included in the analysis. Data shown is the top five advertised VET-related occupations (1–6 digit level Technicians and Trades Workers, Labourers, and Machinery Operators and Drivers) in the Electricity Supply sector and the top five locations and employers according to job advertisements.
Updated: 11 Oct 2018
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