Make your own future in manufacturing

21 February, 2021

Manufacturing creates nearly a million career opportunities

Manufacturing is a major contributor to the Australian economy, as nearly all businesses and industry depend on it. It is the seventh largest employing industry in Australia, with 862,000 jobs accounting for 6.8 per cent of the workforce.

Rapid developments in technology, including; automation, artificial intelligence and digitisation are dramatically changing the manufacturing sector, altering the demand for skills and creating more opportunities. Australian manufacturing has shown reliance during the pandemic and is now set for future growth. The Australian Government implemented a $1.5 billion Modern Manufacturing Strategy to allow Australian manufacturers to scale up, compete internationally and create more jobs, ensuring a bright future for the industry. The Strategy targets investment in six national manufacturing priority segments: resources technology and critical minerals processing, food and beverage, medical products, recycling and clean energy, defence, and space.

With a renewed focus on both investment and training there has never been a better time to start a career in Australian manufacturing.

Most manufacturing jobs are for structural steel and welding trades workers, packers, metal fitters and machinists. National Skills Commission (NSC) research shows that employers are having difficulty filling manufacturing vacancies. Of the employers who attempted to recruit in the four weeks to 21 August 2020, almost half found it hard to fill vacancies. From April to June, metal fabricators and welders, metal fitters and machinists remained in the top five occupations experiencing demand, a trend that likely to continue.

If you would like more information manufacturing jobs, including typical day-to-day tasks, average weekly salary and links to job vacancies, visit For more information on this sector visit: Your Career - Manufacturing

More information:

For more information on careers in this field, including typical day-to-day tasks, average weekly salary and links to job vacancies, you can search for digital careers under For more information, you can also visit Your Career- Professional, Scientific, Technical Services.

What training is required?

More than half (55 per cent) of workers in the manufacturing workforce hold a Certificate III qualification, or higher. The demand for structural steel and welding trades workers and metal fitters and machinists is high, so vocational education and training (VET) qualifications in engineering are expected to remain in demand.
As a result of the shift from manual to digital practices and advanced manufacturing technologies many future jobs are likely to require higher levels of digital literacy and tailored and flexible training to adapt to specific new technologies.

Job finding tip

Employers are not necessary looking for industry specific experience. Many of the skills required by manufacturing organisations are in demand elsewhere. Australian Labour Force data shows that a quarter (25.7 per cent) of people employed in Manufacturing in May 2020 were employment in a different industry in August 2020. This demonstrates that there are opportunities for people with relevant skills to transfer into manufacturing organisations, even if they lack industry specific experience.

Still wondering about your career path?

Check out the School Leavers Information Kit to see if this is the right option for you. The kit can give you tailored information about education, training and work options as you take your next steps.
If you’d like to talk to someone about a career in the construction industry, you can contact the School Leavers Information Service on 1800 CAREER or text SLIS2020 to 0429 009 435. This service can provide more tailored support about your options and the training opportunities that suit you including help polishing your resume or where to find jobs and training.

More tips to start you on your way

If your wellbeing is being impacted by COVID-19 but you don’t know where to start looking for support, the COVID-19 support page has some information and links that could assist you.

Melinda’s story

Melinda Jeffery (nee Lethbridge) always had a fascination for hands-on work but felt obliged to pursue a tertiary pathway.

After gaining work experience at Hargo Engineering, Melinda Jeffery decided that an Australian Apprenticeship in fitting and machining was a better option for her.

She enrolled in a Certificate III in Engineering – Mechanical Trade at Swinburne University of Technology and commenced her Australian Apprenticeship at Hargo Engineering the day after completing her school exams.

“I started Year 12 aiming for a scholarship in mechatronics and took up a very academic study load, but I realised I needed a balance of practical work as well as theoretical challenges,” Melinda said.

“I remembered my work experience at a manufacturer and how that career suited my needs.

“With cooperation from my school and my employer, I completed my Year 12 certificate while working part time in the industry, and then started my Australian Apprenticeship the day after my final exam.”

As a qualified fitter and turner, Melinda won a gold medal in turning at WorldSkills Australia’s Melbourne Region competition in 2013, then went on to compete at the 2014 WorldSkills Australia National Competition. She again won gold at the 2015 Melbourne Region Competition and won a gold for turning at the 2016 WorldSkills Australia National Competition.

In 2014, she was named Australian Apprentice of the Year Award at the Australian Training Awards and became an Australian Apprenticeships Ambassador for the Australian Government.

“Undertaking an Australian Apprenticeship was a really positive experience,” she said.

“The self-paced learning built into the training allowed me to move quickly through content that came easily to me and allowed me to take the time to fully understand concepts that I struggled with.

“An Australian Apprenticeship is an awesome opportunity to learn and earn. There are so many benefits to this training pathway.

“It can often open many doorways that you don’t expect. For example, I visited China in March 2016 to celebrate International Woman’s Day and to promote Australia’s Vocational Education and Training system.”

Melinda has completed a Certificate IV in Engineering and plans to undertake further training in how to teach and train in the workplace.

Ultimately, Melinda wants to contribute to the quality of Australian Apprenticeships by partnering more effectively with off-the-job training and continue learning and increasing her skills in cutting edge machining techniques.

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