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This page provides high-level information and data on the Transport industry which comprises four main industry sectors:

  • Transport and Logistics
  • Rail
  • Aviation
  • Maritime.

The Transport industry plays a key role in enabling Australia’s economic activity. Without the capacities and capabilities provided by the Transport industry, no passengers or freight would move.

Nationally recognised training for the Transport industry is delivered under the following training packages: AVI - Aviation, MAR - Maritime and TLI - Transport and Logistics.

For more information and data specific to the Aviation, Maritime, Rail, and Transport and Logistics sectors please visit the respective pages.

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

IRC and Skills Forecasts

Industry cluster snapshot

Employment and training snapshot

Road Transport is the largest employing industry sector followed by Transport Support Services with Water Transport being the smallest. Employment levels have generally risen between 2000 and 2019 for Transport related industries except for Water Transport which has seen a decrease in employment levels over the time period. However, employment levels are projected to increase for all sub-sectors over the next 5 years until 2024 except for Air and Space Transport which is projected to decline.

Program enrolments in Transport industry related qualifications declined overall between 2015 (128,000) and 2018 (92,850). Program completions in this industry declined sharply between 2015 and 2016 (from 51,460 to 26,770) but slightly increased in 2017 (28,830) before dipping again to 25,160 completions in 2018. Subject-only enrolments grew steadily between 2015 and 2018, with 252,560 enrolments in 2018.

Industry insights on skills needs

The 2019 Skills Forecasts for the different sectors within Transport industry, Aviation IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, Maritime IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, Rail IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast and Transport and Logistics IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, identify some common themes around future skill demands for the workforce including:

  • An ageing workforce will create skills gaps as existing workers retire unless the industry can attract, retain and upskill younger workers.
  • New technologies and automation are driving the need for digital skills within the industry, as well as new skills such as those required for maintenance and repair of automated equipment.
  • Advancements in autonomous and driverless technology will significantly impact the workforce creating demand for new skill sets to effectively manage and operate a more automated transport and logistics network.

Additionally, the top priority skills common to most the above four Skills Forecasts are health and safety, digital skills and organisational skills. The top 5 generic skills for each Skills Forecast had the following generic skills in common at varying positions in the list:

  • Design mindset / Thinking critically / System thinking / Solving problems 
  • Learning agility / Information literacy / Intellectual autonomy and self-management (adaptability)
  • Managerial / Leadership
  • Technology.

For more information on skill needs specific to each Transport industry sector please visit the respective pages.

COVID-19 impact

The Maritime IRC’s 2020 Skills Forecast, Rail IRC’s 2020 Skills Forecast, and Transport and Logistics IRC’s 2020 Skills Forecast do not include any specific information in relation to COVID-19. Information provided by government, industry advisory bodies and associations indicate the Transport industry has been strongly affected by the pandemic. This is particularly the case in Victoria, with Stage 4 restrictions from 3 August 2020 limiting the movement of people impacting, for example, warehousing operations, public transport and supply chain operations. Australia closed its borders to non-citizens and non-residents on 20 March 2020, and a range of internal border restrictions have been implemented by the states and territories that have been varied at short notice to accommodate rapid changes in jurisdictional circumstances. Some sectors or sub-sectors have received essential service status, allowing their operations to continue, but all have been challenged by changes in government policy, consumer demand and supply issues.


The Australian government is providing assistance to the aviation sector through tax and government charges relief and funding programs to secure the regional air network. The Civil Aviation Authority (CASA) has been producing advice for the industry, extended certificates and permissions and shifted commencement dates for new regulations. The closure of Australia’s border and reduction in air travel has had a dire effect on passenger airline companies. In their post-covid recovery plan, Qantas Group announced its workforce would be reduced by at least 6,000 roles and 15,000 employees would remain stood down, remaining 747 aircraft would be retired immediately and 100 aircraft would remain grounded for up to 12 months with those on lease returned when the contract falls due. Virgin Australia entered voluntary administration and was subsequently sold. Along with the loss of around 3,000 roles, parts of regional Australia may be impacted the planned restructure includes the retirement of aircraft that can operate in their areas. An article published by Flight Safety Australia reports the International Air Transport Association estimates airline revenue will be 55% less than in 2019. It also reports that while the air maintenance and tourism-related charters sectors have been severely impacted, not all sectors of the aviation industry have been adversely affected. Air cargo and international charter flights increased, and fly-in-fly out charters for the resource sector, aerial application and training flights - under strict protocols - are continuing.


Operations in the Maritime Industry have been required to navigate a complex, highly regulated environment under COVID-19 restrictions. Australia’s ports have remained open, however there are federal and state government and individual port requirements that must complied with. The operating environment has been subject to rapid change, and government regulatory bodies and industry associations have been providing information to assist the workforce including: the Australian Maritime Safety Authority has been providing advice to the international maritime and domestic commercial vessel industries, and has extended AMSA issued standards of training certification and watchkeeping (STCW) certificates that may expire; the Department of Health has released a fact sheet specifically for the Marine Industry; Maritime Industry Australia Limited (MIAL) is providing up-to-date information gathered from government departments to members; Shipping Australia Limited has COVID-19 Shipping requirements and restrictions at Australian ports; plus international policies; The Boating Industry Association advised members in March that services such as boat manufacture, service and repair work, some retail and wholesale sales and distribution, and the management and maintenance of maritime infrastructure would continue. Cruise ships, defined as capable of carrying more than 100 passengers, were prohibited from operating cruises with the ban extended to 17 September 2020. The March edition of the Marina Industries Association newsletter reported serious impacts to their sector including significant job losses, supported by a survey report commissioned by the association released in July, and a shift to online learning for their education division. The 10 challenges of the coronavirus crisis supplement of Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty SE’s (AGCS) Safety & Shipping Review 2020 reports the most pressing issue has been the inability to change crews. There are restrictions in major ports in 120 countries, and crew changes are prohibited in a further 92 countries.


The Australasian Railway Association reports the Australian rail industry has continued to operate during COVID-19, although with supply chain disruptions, some projects put on hold and 68% of respondents have put workforce expansion on hold. Major government projects that have continued include those in Victoria, Western Australia and New South Wales, with Sydney Trains also announcing a recruitment drive for a record number of apprentices. Community consultation for Inland Rail was moved online, and measures implemented to protect the workforce and regional communities. Rail journeys such as The Ghan and Indian Pacific were suspended due to internal border restrictions. Some jurisdictions also suspended or imposed limitations on internal public transport routes; Australian Rail Maps has been providing a listing of services and their current status. A report by WSP Advisory Sweden shows that on 10 May, passenger rail travel decreased by 68% compared to the baseline on 15 January. A further report by WSP that analyses the supply side of Australian public transport cautions that there are likely to be behavioural shifts by the public in relation to using public transport, and governments and operators may need to optimise public transport usage to encourage the use of public transport that provides the best outcomes for patrons and operators.

Transport and Logistics

The pandemic has been challenging for the Transport and Logistics sector. In March, major supermarket chains such as Coles and Woolworths had to suspend home delivery to all but the most vulnerable customers, introduce restrictions on purchases as distribution networks tried to keep ahead of panic buying and suppliers experienced difficulty accessing imported goods and establish pop-up distribution centres. An Infection Control Skills for Transport and Logistics skills set was approved on 12 May to assist the industry in keeping the workforce and those it services safe. Although the Freight and Logistics industry sub-sector was granted essential service status, jurisdictional restrictions and conditions have been subject to rapid change, and industry associations such as the Australian Trucking Association and National Heavy Vehicle Regulator have been providing support to the workforce to keep up to date. The Bus Industry Confederation survey shows the Long Distance, Tourism, Charter and Express sector has been devastated as a large percentage of income is derived from domestic tourists and sports, local groups and educational charters. Delivery service operators such as Australia Post have been heavily impacted as more Australians moved to online shopping. In response, hundreds of new staff were hired, new facilities opened, extra freighter flights have been chartered, and posties retrained to drive delivery vans to move parcels faster. The Stage 4 restrictions imposed in Melbourne have added an extra burden for the Transport and Logistics industry. Victoria is described as the freight and logistics capital of Australia, and although the Transport industry was recognised as an essential service and the Melbourne port fully operational, under the new regulations warehousing operations may only continue with two-thirds of their regular workforce on site at a time. Although Australia Post received an exemption to continue delivery operations, Qantas was required to close its freight terminal due to infection amongst their workforce, causing delays as alternatives were put in place. With retail outlets required to close and encouraging online purchasing, extra strain on delivery services is to be expected during the lockdown period. These conditions may not ultimately be unique to Victoria and need to be navigated in other regions as the pandemic progresses.

Links and resources

Industry associations and advisory bodies

Aerial Agricultural Association of Australia

Association of Tourist & Heritage Rail Australia

Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association

Australasian Institute of Marine Surveyors

Australasian Railway Association

Australian Airports Association

Australian Business Aviation Association

Australian Commercial Marine Group

Australian Furniture Removers Association

Australian Helicopter Industry Association

Australian Logistics Council

Australian Marine Exports

Australian Taxi Industry Association

Australian Trucking Association

Australian Warbirds Association

Automotive Training Board – NSW

Aviation Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Business Association

Aviation/Aerospace Australia

Board of Airline Representatives of Australia (BARA)

Boating Industry Association

Boating Industry Association of Western Australia

Bus Industry Confederation

Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport

Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia

Flight Safety Foundation

Industry Skills Advisory Council – NT

Logistics Training Council - WA

Marina Industries Association Australian

Maritime Industry Australia Ltd (MIAL)

NT Road Transport Association

Pro Aviation

Queensland Trucking Association

Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board

Rail Track Association Australia

Recreational Aviation Australia

Regional Aviation Association of Australia

Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) Australian Division

Royal Federation of Aero Clubs of Australia

Safeskies Australia

Shipping Australia

Superyacht Australia

Supply Chain and Logistics Association of Australia

Transport & Logistics Industry Skills Council

Victorian Transport Association

Waste, Recycling Industry Association (QLD)


Licensing/Regulatory bodies

Airservices Australia

Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Australian Transport Safety Bureau

Civil Aviation Safety Authority

National Heavy Vehicle Regulator

Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator

Safe Work Australia


Employee associations

Australian & International Pilots Association

Australian Federation of Air Pilots

Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union

Australian Maritime Officers Union

Australian Services Union

Flight Attendants Association of Australia

Maritime Union of Australia

Rail Tram and Bus Union

Transport Workers Union of Australia

United Workers Union


Relevant research

A National Rail Industry Plan for the Benefit of Australia – Australasian Railway Association

Aviation Policy 2016 – The Australian Aviation Associations Forum

Aviation Safety Regulation Review (2014) – Australian Government

Aviation Workforce Skills Study (2016) – Australian Industry Standards

Improving Workforce Attraction and Retention Rates for Australian Transport and Logistics Companies – P Kahlert (2016)

Rail – Platforms for the Future 2017-35 – Australasian Railway Association

The Economic Contribution of the Australian Maritime Industry – PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)

The Future of Aircraft Maintenance in Australia: Workforce Capability, Aviation Safety and Industry Development (2015) – University of NSW

Transport 2050: Lookout! Here Comes the Future – Ferrier Hodgson and Azurium (2017)

Value of Rail (2017) – Deloitte Access Economics

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment, 2018, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal  by ANZSIC 2 digit industry, employment projections to May 2023.

  • 46 Road Transport
  • 47 Rail Transport
  • 48 Water Transport
  • 49 Air and Space Transport
  • 52Transport Support Services
  • 53Warehousing and Storage Services.

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 November 2018

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 2 digit industry, 2000 to 2018, May quarter
    • 46 Road Transport
    • 47 Rail Transport
    • 48 Water Transport
    • 49 Air and Space Transport
    • 52 Transport Support Services
    • 53 Warehousing and Storage Services.

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

  • MAR Maritime Training Package
  • AVI Aviation Training Package
  • TLI Transport and Logistics 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:

  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 program enrolments
  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 program completions
  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 subject enrolments.

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%.

AVI Aviation 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 Aviation IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, Maritime IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, Rail IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast and Transport and Logistics IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

Updated: 09 Sep 2020
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