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Sport, Fitness and Recreation


This page provides high-level information on the Sport, Fitness and Recreation Activities industry.

The Sport, Fitness and Recreation landscape is complex, and comprises of four main industry sectors:

  • Sport
  • Aquatic and Community Recreation
  • Outdoor Recreation
  • Fitness.

The Sport, Fitness and Recreation sector is extremely popular with Australian consumers and caters to a range of demographics and tastes. Consumers want services that are targeted to their specific needs, which has led to an increased range of activities on offer in gyms and fitness facilities. This has followed a worldwide trend towards personalised fitness services.

The impact of the Sport, Fitness and Recreation industry extends beyond economic benefits, with the industry and its sub-sectors providing significant value and contribution to Australian society through preventative health, mental health benefits, increased productivity, decreased worker absenteeism, decreased compensation claims and injuries. This is recognised through significant investment by federal and state governments in a range of sport and physical activity initiatives.

In addition to education and health benefits, sport, fitness and recreation activities bring communities together by providing a positive environment for people to connect and share a common focus. Sporting and fitness activities can provide a platform for people to engage and can promote awareness of broader community issues. Involvement is widespread, with approximately 1.5 million coaches, instructors and teachers across Australia.

Nationally recognised training for Sport, Fitness and Recreation occupations is delivered under the SIS – Sport, Fitness and Recreation Training Package. 

For more information and data specific to Sport, Fitness, Aquatic and Community Recreation and Outdoor Recreation please visit the respective pages. 

Information sourced from the Sport and Recreation IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

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

IRC and Skills Forecast

Industry cluster snapshot

Employment and training snapshot

The employment level in the Sport and Recreation Activities (excluding Horse and Dog Racing Activities) industry has increased considerably over the period between 2000 and 2019 (from around 63,300 to 136,000), with increases expected to continue up until 2024.

There were close to 102,640 enrolments in the Sport, Fitness and Recreation Training Package during 2018 (a decrease from approximately 112,360 in 2017) and there were just over 34,500 completions, in line with the completion figures from 2017. There continues to be considerable increases in subject-only enrolments, growing from almost 30,200 in 2015 to approximately 132,570 in 2018.

Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

According to the Sport and Recreation IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, the following form the top priority skills required across the industry:

  • Technical/job-specific skills
  • Self-management
  • Teamwork and communication
  • Problem solving.

Other skills and knowledge gaps identified included:

  • Online and social media
  • Marketing
  • Initiative and enterprise (i.e. small business management)
  • Sports Administration.

The following generic skills were also identified as highest priority for the Sport and Recreation industry:

  • Customer Service/Marketing
  • Communication/Collaboration including virtual collaboration/Social intelligence
  • Learning agility/Information literacy/Intellectual autonomy and self-management
  • Design mindset/Thinking critically/System thinking/Solving problems
  • Managerial/Leadership.

A range of challenges and opportunities facing the industry overall have been identified in the Sport and Recreation IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, including:

  • Industry and policy reforms – The health, social and economic benefits of participating in physical activity is driving significant change in key strategic and policy development at a government level in order to emphasise the integration of sport, fitness and recreational activity across the community. The multitude of developments occurring at state, territory and federal levels require a level of understanding and awareness by all industry employers and stakeholders to ensure everyone is working towards these common objectives.
  • Skills shortages – The Sport and Recreation IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast references a report which highlights key workforce shortages being experienced across the sector in Queensland, including swimming teacher, sports official, sports development officer and manager, sports coach and instructor, fitness instructor, sports administrator, sports administrator, aquatic centre instructor and team manager.
  • Technology including online and social media – SkillsIQ is currently undertaking the cross sector project Consumer Engagement via Online and Social Media which seeks to inform the development of training package products to meet skills gaps in this area, and enable the Sport and Recreation industry to build and capitalise on the high levels of industry uptake and use of social media and online platforms.
  • Lack of career progression opportunities and general work conditions – High levels of casual employment and a heavy reliance on volunteers in the industry are believed to be contributing to the perception that the industry lacks long term career pathways and job security. It has been suggested that addressing workforce conditions and highlighting career pathways could help the industry maintain a more sustainable workforce into the future.
  • Training package products – Updates are currently underway for the Sport and Recreation Training Package to remove repetitive units and update content and structure to align better with emerging and existing job roles. In addition, there is increasing recognition of the value of Statements of Attainments within the industry, not only for addressing the impacts of technology and developments in other key areas, but also providing a useful pathway for people to gain employment outcomes. Particularly amongst mature age entrants and those working as volunteers in the sector who may be hesitant to undertake full qualifications.
  • Access to facilities in remote areas – Sporting and aquatic facilities in remote areas are often provided by local councils with limited operating budgets which can impact the communities access to these facilities. The health and social benefits of participating in physical activity is well recognised, therefore the Sport and Recreation IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast suggests that local councils and sporting clubs collaboratively form strategies that work towards increasing access to these facilities.
  • Demographic trends – There are several key demographic trends currently influencing the Sport and Recreation industry with regards to type of activities and skills required from the workforce. These include a diversity of user groups (older people, youth, people with health issues and other conditions); the prominence of a sedentary lifestyle, obesity and people living longer with chronic health conditions; increasing the rate of children who participate in physical education and improving the rates of children reaching National Benchmarks for swimming and water safety, particularly amongst lower socio-economic areas; and cultural diversity, sport, fitness and recreational activities can bring diverse communities together and provide a positive place for connection and sharing a common focus. 

Links and resources

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


Government departments and agencies

Active Canberra

Arts Sport and Leisure (NT)

Government of South Australia Office for Recreation and Sport

NSW Office of Sport

Recreation Sports and Arts (Queensland)

Sport and Recreation (Tasmania)

Sport and Recreation (Victoria)

Sport and Recreation (WA)

Sport Australia


Industry associations and advisory bodies

Aquatic and Recreation Institute

Australian Adventure Activity Standards

Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation (ACHPER)

Australian Fitness Network

Australian Leisure Facilities Association

Australian Strength and Conditioning Association (ASCA)

Australian Swim Coach and Teachers Association


Clearinghouse for Sport

Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports

Community Sport Australia

Exercise and Sports Science Australia

Fitness Australia

Outdoor Education Australia

Outdoor Recreation Industry Council of NSW

Outdoors SA

Parks and Leisure Australia

Physical Activity Australia

Queensland Fitness Sport Recreation Skills Alliance

Recreation South Australia

Royal Life Saving Society Australia

Sport New South Wales

Sport Queensland

Sport SA

Swim Australia

Swimming Australia

Western Australia Sports Federation


Employee associations

Australian Services Union

Australian Workers Union

Health Services Union


Relevant research

Arts and Recreation Services: South Australia’s Industry Priority Qualifications 2018 – The Training and Skills Commission

Sport and Recreation Common Ground – Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries

Data sources and notes

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 industries, 2000 and 2018, May Quarter:
    • 910 Sports and Recreation Activities, (not further defined)
    • 911 Sports and Physical Recreation Activities
    • 913 Amusement and Other Recreation Activities.

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

  • by ANZSIC 3 digit industries, employment projections to May 2023:
    • 910 Sports and Recreation Activities, nfd
    • 911 Sports and Physical Recreation Activities
    • 913 Amusement and Other Recreation Activities.

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection and Total VET Students and Courses from the following training package:

  • SIS Sport, Fitness and Recreation Training Package.
Updated: 02 Apr 2020
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