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This page provides information and data on the Racing industry. The Racing industry can be described as having two sectors: Equine and Canine.

The Racing industry in Australia incorporates a diverse range of businesses including horse breeding/farming, horse racing (thoroughbred and harness), greyhound racing, and management of the facilities used specifically for those activities.

In 2017–18, horse and greyhound racing contributed approximately $1.4 billion to the Australian Gross Domestic Product. Further value-added income for the economy is generated by breeding, horse sales, prize money and wagering.

Figures from Racing Australia suggest there are approximately 159,000 individuals involved in thoroughbred racing nationally, including over 82,600 racehorse owners, as well as various other participants, volunteers and employees.

Greyhound racing includes around 30,000 ‘registered participants’ with figures from Greyhound Racing Australasia indicating that 7,000 people are directly employed in this industry, while tens of thousands are indirectly employed as a result of industry operations.

Almost all occupations in racing require relevant industry licences, which are coordinated through the industry’s peak bodies. Occupations which have licensing requirements include:

  • Trainers
  • Jockeys
  • Stablehands & Kennelhands
  • Float drivers
  • Farriers
  • Syndicate promoters
  • Rider agents.

Nationally recognised training for the Racing industry is delivered under the RGR – Racing and Breeding Training Package.

Visit the following pages for information on other Sport, Fitness and Recreation sectors and Agriculture sectors. 

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

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

IRC and Skills Forecasts

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

The employment level for the Horse and Dog Racing Activities industry fluctuated between 2000 and 2019, peaking in 2009 and 2017 (around 13,900 and 14,200 respectively). In 2019 the employment level was around 6,000, one of the lowest levels recorded since 2000. Levels are, however, predicted to increase to around 7,300 over the next five years to 2024.

Looking at the top occupations in the Horse and Dog Racing Activities industry, close to 24% of the workforce is employed as Livestock Farm Workers, with an increase of about 3% predicted to 2024 for this occupation. A further 19% of the workforce is employed as Animal Attendants and Trainers, and employment in this occupation is projected to grow by almost 13% over the next five years to 2024.

Training trends

Training snapshot

There were approximately 1,420 program enrolments in Racing-related qualifications during 2018, and just under 400 completions. Program enrolments fell between 2015 and 2017, from roughly 2,150 to around 1,400. Program completions have recorded slight increases followed by slight decreases each year from 2015, with a small increase occurring between 2017 and 2018 (approximately 370 and 400 respectively). Subject only enrolments are significantly down from the almost 220 recorded in 2015 but have increased from 30 in 2017 to 60 in 2018.

During 2018, more than half of enrolments (56%) were in certificate III level qualifications, with a further 28% in certificate IV level qualifications. The most common areas of training were Stablehand (56%), followed by Racehorse Training (17%), Trackrider (13%) and Jockey and Harness Race Driver (11%). The most common intended occupations for qualifications in this sector were Horse Trainer, followed by Stablehand and Jockey.

For enrolments during 2018, more training in the Racing sector was delivered by private training providers (64%) than TAFE institutes (29%). Approximately 90% of subjects for Racing-related qualifications were Commonwealth and state funded in 2018. Students who enrolled in 2018 were mainly from Victoria (59%) and New South Wales (24%). The majority of training was delivered in Victoria (59%), followed by New South Wales (25%).

Apprentice and trainee commencements and completions in this sector fell overall between 2010 and 2018, however they have remained fairly stable between 2017 and 2018, with only a slight dip in commencements (approximately 230 down to just under 220) and small rise in completions (roughly 100 up to almost 130). The majority of apprentices or trainees in this sector have an intended occupation of Horse Trainer (58%) or Jockey (33%). New South Wales reported 43% of apprenticeship training, followed by Victoria (22%) and Queensland (18%).

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 top five generic skills ranked as important in the Racing IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast were as follows:

  • Language, Literacy and Numeracy (LLN) skills
  • Learning agility/Information literacy/Intellectual autonomy and self-management skills
  • Communication/Collaboration including virtual collaboration/Social intelligence skills
  • Financial skills
  • Customer service/Marketing skills.

In addition, the Racing IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast identified animal welfare and integrity and ethical conduct as being the top priority industry and occupation skills.

The Racing IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast identifies a number of factors which provide challenges and opportunities for the Racing industry, and have implications for the industry’s workforce. These include:

  • Formalising national training and assessment tools - The racing industry has expressed a desire to link qualifications to licensing, however financial costs and logistical issues have impeded progress. Employers report the cost of vocational training as prohibitive in an industry predominantly characterised by very small businesses (mostly less than five employees). In addition, a lack of local training delivery in some areas, and application processes which are seen as convoluted by employers seeking trainees has deterred participation in the VET system. Industry believes this will have a significant negative impact on the supply of qualified and skilled graduates in the future, which has occupational health and safety implications for unqualified people employed in high-risk occupations.
  • Jockey welfare - It is estimated that in the next 10 years there will be 10-12 jockey deaths, and 50 jockeys will suffer career ending injuries including paraplegia, quadriplegia and severe brain injury. As such, ongoing work is required across all levels of the Racing industry to improve jockey safety, currently considered the second most dangerous occupation in Australia.
  • Event attendance - There has been a decline in ticket sales and revenue from regular horse and greyhound racing events in recent years, largely attributed to the rise in sports betting through online and mobile betting platforms. Marquee racing events continue to attract large crowds, so the racing industry is introducing new concepts, to build on the success of these events, such as the Everest and the All-Star Mile which increase public engagement in racing events.
  • Worker attraction and retention - Attracting, training and retaining workers in key occupations is an ongoing challenge for the Racing industry, which has identified the need to address an ageing workforce, negative public perception of careers in racing and a shortage of people in the occupations of apprentice jockey, harness racing driver, stable hand and track rider.
  • Impact of visa regulations on the racing workforce - Emerging national and state migration reforms are expected to reduce the ability of the industry to meet the demand for skilled workers. The Racing industry relies heavily on workers from overseas and any changes to the visa programs and related occupation lists will impact the supply of skilled workers.
  • Industry inclusivity - Addressing inclusivity across racing and breeding remains an ongoing issue, with women significantly underrepresented in many areas of the industry, particularly within televised and highly publicised events. Since Michelle Payne’s victory in 2015, only two female jockeys have participated in the Melbourne Cup and no female jockey has ever been booked to ride a Melbourne Cup starter determined to be a top 5 chance of winning, based on race odds.
  • Quarantine issues - The global nature of the Racing industry makes it vulnerable to any changes to quarantine regulations. These changes can occur quickly in response to external factors such as equine influenza and federal government decisions, therefore ensuring workers have the correct skills and knowledge to manage these changes through national training materials would help to alleviate this.
  • Social licence to operate - The Racing and breeding industry is subject to high-profile examination by regulators, media, interest groups and the public. Animal welfare continues to be a high-profile topic requiring the Racing industry to actively identify and address any issues. Retirement programs are ongoing across all three codes of the industry, while the overbreeding of greyhounds is currently being addressed through Greyhound racing club programs with formal training being developed in support of these programs.

The importance of animal welfare skills in the Racing industry is supported by recent release of two relevant publications. In 2019 Racing and Wagering Western Australia (RWWA) released their Code of Practice for the Keeping of Racing Greyhounds and Racing Victoria published an Equine Welfare Strategic Plan. The Code of Practice outlines the minimum standards required for the accommodation, management and care of greyhounds in order to ensure consistency across the industry. The Equine Welfare Strategic Plan outlines practical steps, divided into six pillars, which can be used to address equine welfare issues identified as a strategic priority across the industry.

Links and resources

Below is a list of industry-relevant organisations and associations. Hyperlinks have been included where available.

Industry associations and advisory bodies

Association of Victorian Country Harness Racing Clubs (AVCHRC)

Australian Bookmakers' Association (ABA)

Australian Genetics Testing

Australian Greyhound Racing Association (AGRA)

Australian Jockeys' Association (AJA)

Australian Jumping Racing Association (AJRA)

Australian Standardbred Breeders Association (ASBA)

Australian Trainers' Association (ATA)

Australian Turf Club

BOTRA Tasmania (Breeders, Owners, Trainers and Reinspersons Association)

Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club (BGRC)

Brisbane Racing Club

Canberra Greyhound Racing Club

Canberra Harness Racing Club

Canberra Racing Club

Country Racing Association of Western Australia (CRA WA)

Country Racing Victoria

Darwin Greyhound Association of the Northern Territories

Equine Veterinarians Australia

Federation of Bloodstock Agents Australia Limited

Gloucester Park Harness Racing

Greyhound Breeders, Owners and Trainers Association

Greyhound Owners, Trainers and Breeders Association of Victoria (GOTBA)

Greyhound Racing NSW

Greyhound Racing South Australia (GRSA)

Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV)

Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission

Greyhounds Australasia (GA)

Greyhounds Western Australia (GWA)

Harness Breeders NSW

Harness Breeders Victoria (HBV)

Harness Racing Australia (HRA)

Harness Racing New South Wales

Harness Racing South Australia

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV)

Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association

Hobart Greyhound Racing Club

Launceston Greyhound Racing Club Inc.

Melbourne Greyhound Racing Association

Melbourne Racing Club

Metropolitan and Country Harness Racing Association

Mooney Valley Racing Club (MVRC)

Northern Territory Treasury, Racing, Gaming & Licensing

Northern Territory Bloodhorse Breeders Association

NSW Bookmakers Association

NSW Jockeys Association

NSW Racehorse Owners Association (NSWROA)

NSW Standardbred Owners Association (NSWSOA)

NSW Trainers Association (NSWTA)

Provincial Racing Association of NSW (PRANSW)

Queensland Breeders, Owners, Trainers and Reinspersons Association (BOTRA)

Queensland Country Racing Committee

Queensland Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing

Queensland Racehorse Owners' Association

Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC)

Racehorse Owners’ Association Tasmania (ROAT)

Racehorse Owners Association of the Northern Territory

Racing Analytical Services

Racing Australia

Racing and Wagering Western Australia

Racing NSW

Racing NSW Country

Racing Queensland

Racing Victoria

Regional Racing Associations

Sandown Greyhound Racing Club (SGRC)

South Australia Breeders, Owners, Trainers and Reinspersons Association (BOTRA)

South Australian Country Harness Racing Clubs Association

South Australian Harness Racing Pony Association (SAHRPA)

South Australian Jockey Club (SAJC)

South Australian Racehorse Owners' Association (SAROA)

South Australian Racing Clubs Council

South Australian Reinswomens’ Association

South Australian Thoroughbred Breeders (SATB)

TasRacing (Tasmanian Racing Board)

Thoroughbred Breeders Australia (TBA)

Thoroughbred Breeders NSW (TBNSW)

Thoroughbred Breeders Queensland

Thoroughbred Breeders Tasmania

Thoroughbred Breeders Victoria (TBV)

Thoroughbred Breeders Western Australia (TBWA)

Thoroughbred Racehorse Owners' Association (TROA)

Thoroughbred Racehorse Owners’ Council of Australia

Thoroughbred Racing SA (TRSA)

Thoroughbred Racing Northern Territory (TRNT)

United Harness Racing Association (UHRA)

Victoria Racing Club

Victorian Bookmakers’ Association (VBA)

Victorian Harness Racing Sports Club

Victorian Jockeys’ Association (VJA)

Victorian Square Trotters Association

Victorian Trainers Association

Victorian Trainers and Drivers Association (VTDA)

West Australian Breeders, Owners, Trainers and Reinspersons Association (BOTRA)

Western Australian Jockeys’ Association (WAJA)

Western Australian Racehorse Owners' Association (WAROA)

Western Australian Provincial Thoroughbred Racing Association

Western Australian Racing Trainers’ Association (WARTA)

Western Australian Standardbred Breeder’s Association (WASBA)


Employee associations

The Australian Workers' Union (AWU)


Relevant research

Code of Practice for the Keeping of Racing Greyhounds – Racing and Wagering Western Australia (RWWA)

Equine Welfare Strategic Plan – Racing Victoria

Data sources and notes

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

  • by ANZSIC 3 digit industry, employment projections to May 2023
    • 912 Horse and Dog Racing Activities
  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2023
    • Livestock Farm Workers
    • Animal Attendants and Trainers
    • Sportspersons
    • Greenkeepers
    • Sports Coaches, Instructors and Officials.

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 industry, 2000 to 2018, May Quarter
    • 912 Horse and Dog Racing Activities.

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

  • Employment level by 3 digit industry, and 4 digit level occupations to identify the relevant VET-related occupations in the industry as a proportion of the total workforce.
    • 912 Horse and Dog Racing Activities.

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

  • RGR Racing Training Package
  • Jockey and Harness Race Driver
    • RGR40208 - Certificate IV in Racing (Jockey)
    • RGR40308 - Certificate IV in Racing (Harness Race Driver)
    • RGR40218 - Certificate IV in Racing (Jockey)
    • RGR40318- Certificate IV in Racing (Harness Race Driver).
  • Other Racing
    • RGR20208 - Certificate II in Racing (Kennelhand)
    • RGR20213 - Certificate II in Racing (Greyhound)
    • RGR30308 - Certificate III in Racing Services (Racing Administration)
    • RGR30408 - Certificate III in Racing Services (Cadet Steward)
    • RGR30508 - Certificate III in Racing Services (Track Maintenance)
    • RGR40408 - Certificate IV in Racing (Greyhound Trainer)
    • RGR40508 - Certificate IV in Racing Services (Racing Administration)
    • RGR40608 - Certificate IV in Racing Services (Steward)
    • RGR50208 - Diploma of Racing Services (Racing Administration)
    • RGR50308 - Diploma of Racing Services (Steward)
    • RGR20218 - Certificate II in Racing Industry
    • RGR30418 - Certificate III in Racing Services
    • RGR40418 - Certificate IV in Racing (Greyhound Trainer)
    • RGR40518 - Certificate IV in Racing Integrity
    • RGR50218 - Diploma of Racing Integrity Management.
  • Racehorse Trainer
    • RGR40108 - Certificate IV in Racing (Racehorse Trainer)
    • RGR50108 - Diploma of Racing (Racehorse Trainer)
    • RGR40118 - Certificate IV in Racing (Racehorse Trainer)
    • RGR50118 - Diploma of Racing (Racehorse Trainer).
  • Stablehand
    • RGR10108 - Certificate I in Racing (Stablehand)
    • RGR20108 - Certificate II in Racing (Stablehand)
    • RGR10118 - Certificate I in Racing (Stablehand)
    • RGR30218 - Certificate III in Racing (Stablehand)
    • RGR30318 - Certificate III in Racing (Driving Stablehand)
    • RGR30518 - Certificate III in Racing (Trackwork Rider).
  • Trackrider
    • RGR30108 - Certificate III in Racing (Trackrider)
    • RGR30208 - Certificate III in Racing (Advanced Stablehand).

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

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

  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 program enrolments
  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 subject enrolments
  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 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 five) 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%.

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

  • 2010 to 2018 commencements
  • 2010 to 2018 completions
  • 2018 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2018 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Racing IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

Updated: 02 Apr 2020
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