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This page provides high-level information on the aerospace sector.

The Aerospace sector maintains and repairs commercial and military aircraft, as well as manufacturing aircraft and aircraft components. There were 920 businesses employing 10,900 people in 2018, with 80% of businesses located in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.

The aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) sector is made up of a mix of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), independent service providers, and airlines with internal MRO capabilities. Services offered include line and heavy maintenance, repair, overhaul and modification of complete aircraft, aircraft engines and accessories, airframes and systems, aircraft systems and components, avionics and instruments.

Vocational education and training (VET) is required typically for the aerospace occupation:

  • Aircraft Maintenance Engineers.

The MRO sector is highly regulated and very reliant on highly skilled labour to provide maintenance services. Demand for MROs services is on the rise, with annualised revenue forecast to increase by 2.7% over the five years to 2022–2023 as airlines and Defence upgrade fleets.

Nationally recognised training for the aerospace industry is delivered under the MEA – Aeroskills Training Package.

For other information on manufacturing, visit the Manufacturing and related services cluster page. For information on the Aviation industry, visit the Aviation sector page.

Information sourced from the Aerospace IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

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

IRC and skills forecasts

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

Numbers employed as Aircraft Maintenance Engineers, the intended occupation for Aeroskills Training Package qualifications, have fluctuated between 2000 and 2019. In 2017, the employment level of this occupation was at its lowest level since 2003 (around 8,100). In 2018 the employment level rebounded to its highest level since 2011 (around 11,400) but decreased again in 2019 (around 10,100). An increase in the employment level is projected between 2019 and 2024.

Training trends

Training snapshot

During 2018 there were just over 1,450 program enrolments in Aerospace-related qualifications, up from 1,250 enrolments in 2017. There were approximately 460 completions in Aerospace-related qualifications, a slight decrease on the previous year. Subject-only enrolments (no qualification) have increased from 4,710 in 2015 to 5,880 in 2018.

The largest proportion of enrolments in 2018 were at the certificate IV level (42%). In terms of qualification clusters, the majority of enrolments were related to mechanical and maintenance (66%), followed by avionics (17%). The most common intended occupations for the training were Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Mechanical) and Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Avionics).

For enrolments in 2018, 46% of the qualifications were delivered by enterprise training providers, with a further 45% provided by TAFE institutes. In addition, approximately 62% of enrolments were government funded, with 36% being funded via domestic fee for service arrangements. About 34% of students were from New South Wales, and 31% from Queensland.

The majority of training was delivered in Queensland (42%) and New South Wales (34%).

Apprenticeship commencements for aeroskills courses generally trended downwards over the period between 2010 and 2016, with slight increases seen in 2017 and 2018. Apprenticeship completions increased over the period between 2010 and 2013, before declining significantly over the following three years. However, there were slight increases in 2017 and 2018 on the previous years. New South Wales reported 62% of apprenticeship activity, with 20% reported in Queensland. The intended occupations for the training were Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Mechanical) (64%), Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Avionics) (32%) and Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Structures) (4%).

For more data specific to your occupation, industry or training package, visit NCVER’s VET students by industry. If you are prompted to log in, select cancel and you will continue to be directed to the program.

For more data specific to your region visit NCVER’s Atlas of Total VET.

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

The Aerospace IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast identified skills in ageing aircraft maintenance and understanding of composite materials as priority areas for skill development. In addition, the five generic workforce skills listed as being most important are:

  • Design mindset/Thinking critically/Systems thinking/Solving problems
  • Learning agility/Information literacy/Intellectual autonomy and self-management
  • Communication/Collaboration including virtual collaboration/Social intelligence
  • Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills
  • Technology.

In the survey conducted by IBSA Manufacturing during October 2017, 143 industry respondents across all states and territories identified an ageing workforce and a shortage of skilled workers as key challenges for the Aerospace sector. Unlike many other industries, the automation of tasks was rated as the challenge that had the least impact. New job roles the industry is developing skills for include roles related to:

  • Licensing and regulation
  • Managerial and leadership
  • Avionics, digital systems integration, new aircraft types and composite structures
  • Cross-trade mechanical skills, fibre optics and technical research.

New and emerging job roles requiring new skills development for Defence include:

  • Networks air and ground integration
  • The use of drone technology for professional imagery capture
  • Low observable air frames.

The Queensland Aerospace 10-Year Roadmap and Action Plan states industry has raised concerns about potential shortages of skilled engineers in the aerospace manufacturing base within five to six years, however Australia has both a strong need and opportunity to help meet this expected shortfall in Australia and in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Report of the Expert Panel on Aviation Skills and Training identified several issues in regard to maintenance training: poor alignment of competencies between CASA and the MEA Aeroskills Training Package; there are separate funding schemes in each state; and an urgent need for alignment with EASA regulations. The Aerospace IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast reports the lack of harmonisation of Australia’s regulations with other countries is impacting on the supply of skilled employees for the domestic market and the ability of training organisations to compete for training delivery globally. Issues surrounding licencing are being addressed by the Aerospace IRC with the AISC approving the Case for Endorsement and final draft MEA Aeroskills Training Package components for the Aircraft Maintenance Subcategory B1 Licences Project and a review of the Training Package to determine the development work that needs to be undertaken, to ensure that Licensing Regulations requirements are met.

Links and resources

Data sources and notes

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

  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2023
    • 3231 Aircraft Maintenance Engineers.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018, Employed persons by occupation unit group of main job (ANZSCO), sex, state and territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 – EQ08, viewed 1 November 2018

  • Employed total by ANZSC0 4 digit 3231 Aircraft Maintenance Engineers, 2000 to 2018, May Quarter.           

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

MEA Aeroskills Training Package.

  • Avionics
    • MEA40607 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Avionics)
    • MEA40610 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Avionics)
    • MEA40611 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Avionics)
    • MEA40615 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Avionics)
    • MEA41011 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Mechatronics)
    • MEA41015 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Mechatronics)
    • MEA50110 - Diploma of Aeroskills (Avionics)
    • MEA50111 - Diploma of Aeroskills (Avionics)
    • MEA50115 - Diploma of Aeroskills (Avionics)
    • MEA50311 - Diploma of Aviation Maintenance Management (Avionics)
    • MEA50315 - Diploma of Aviation Maintenance Management (Avionics)
    • MEA60111 - Advanced Diploma of Aviation Maintenance Management (Avionics)
    • MEA60115 - Advanced Diploma of Aviation Maintenance Management (Avionics)
  • Mechanical and maintenance
    • MEA20511 - Certificate II in Aircraft Line Maintenance
    • MEA20515 - Certificate II in Aircraft Line Maintenance
    • MEA40707 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Mechanical)
    • MEA40710 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Mechanical)
    • MEA40711 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Mechanical)
    • MEA40715 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Mechanical)
    • MEA50210 - Diploma of Aeroskills (Mechanical)
    • MEA50211 - Diploma of Aeroskills (Mechanical)
    • MEA50215 - Diploma of Aeroskills (Mechanical)
    • MEA50411 - Diploma of Aviation Maintenance Management (Mechanical)
    • MEA50415 - Diploma of Aviation Maintenance Management (Mechanical)
    • MEA60211 - Advanced Diploma of Aviation Maintenance Management (Mechanical)
    • MEA60215 - Advanced Diploma of Aviation Maintenance Management (Mechanical)
  • Other aeroskills qualifications
    • MEA20407 - Certificate II in Aeroskills
    • MEA20411 - Certificate II in Aeroskills
    • MEA20415 - Certificate II in Aeroskills
    • MEA30111 - Certificate III in Aircraft Surface Finishing
    • MEA30115 - Certificate III in Aircraft Surface Finishing
    • MEA30311 - Certificate III in Aircraft Life Support and Furnishing
    • MEA30315 - Certificate III in Aircraft Life Support and Furnishing
    • MEA40810 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Structures)
    • MEA40911 - Certificate IV in Aircraft Surface Finishing
    • MEA40915 - Certificate IV in Aircraft Surface Finishing
    • MEA41211 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Armament)
    • MEA41213 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Armament)
    • MEA41311 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Structures)
    • MEA41315 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Structures).

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. 

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

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%.

MEA Aeroskills Training Package apprentice and trainee data has been extracted from the National Apprentice and Trainee Collection, including:

  • 2010 to 2017 commencements
  • 2010 to 2017 completions 
  • 2017 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2017 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

Priority skills and generic skills data have been extracted from the Aerospace IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

Updated: 31 Mar 2020
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