Technicians and Trades Workers

The Technicians and Trades Workers graphic shows image 35% of jobs are regional. 16% of workers are aged 15 to 24 years. 24% of workers are self-employed.
11% of workers hold a bachelor degree or higher. 57% of workers hold a certificate 3 or higher qualification. 7% of workers hold an other qualification. 25% of workers do not hold a post-school qualification.


Annual employment growth

Technicians and Trades Workers undertake a variety of skilled manual tasks. They apply technical, trade or industry specific knowledge in construction, manufacturing, scientific, engineering and other activities.

Regional employment is fairly common with more than a third of workers employed across regional Australia.

A relatively large proportion of this group are self-employed (24%), particularly Construction Trades Workers (43%), and full-time work is common.

Technicians and Trades Workers has the second lowest percentage of female workers of any occupation group (16%). This is especially apparent for Automotive and Engineering Trades Workers, Construction Trades Workers, and Electrotechnology and Telecommunications Trades Workers with women representing less than 3% of these workforces. That said, some occupations have large shares of female workers, such as Veterinary Nurses (95%) and Hairdressers (81%).

What qualifications and skills are needed?

Around 60% of Technicians and Trades Workers hold a certificate III or higher vocational qualification, with apprenticeships and traineeships providing a key training pathway for many occupations in this group.

Top employing occupations

Electricians 175,900
Carpenters and Joiners 143,100
Motor Mechanics 106,600
Metal Fitters and Machinists 106,000
Chefs 91,200
Plumbers 84,600
Gardeners 83,000
Architectural, Building and Surveying Technicians 78,200
Structural Steel and Welding Trades Workers 77,500
Hairdressers 65,100
ICT Support Technicians 61,100
Painting Trades Workers 44,400
Cooks 43,600
Bakers and Pastrycooks 39,600
Other Building and Engineering Technicians 35,100
Medical Technicians 33,800
Airconditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics 28,500
Cabinetmakers 25,700
Bricklayers and Stonemasons 24,100
Electronics Trades Workers 24,100

In which industries are Technicians and Trades Workers employed?

Construction accounts for the largest share of these workers (32%), followed by Manufacturing (13%) and Other Services (which includes automotive repair and maintenance) (13%).

Are there job opportunities?

With federal and state governments introducing or bringing forward infrastructure projects, the Construction industry (and therefore Technician and Trades Workers) will remain an important source of jobs for Australians now and into the future.

Many vacancies for Technicians and Trades Workers can be advertised informally. When seeking work in this occupation, it pays to be proactive by approaching employers directly (e.g. by email or by phone), checking social media (including jobs groups on Facebook), and reaching out through your network of family and friends.

Analysis by the National Skills Commission in the 2021 Skills Priority List indicated shortages are most common in the Technicians and Trades Workers occupation group, with 42% of assessed occupations in shortage. Electrician, Chef and Metal Fabricator are all large employing occupations which are in shortage and have strong projected future demand.

Will there be future opportunities?

Demand is likely to be ongoing for Technicians and Trades Workers. Given their role within the economy, there will always be demand for those workers who can build, construct, fix and mend. While there may be the risk of automation for some routine tasks, many occupations involve non-routine or unpredictable duties which are more difficult to automate.

Employment by occupation subgroup, Technicians and Trades Workers

  Employment Employment Profile Workforce Educational Profile Projected Employment
  Employ’t May 2021 5 year change
to May 2021
Part-time Female Aged 15 to 24 years Aged 55 years or older Bachelor degree or higher Cert III or higher VET qual No post-school qual 5 year change to May 2025
Occupation subgroup ‘000 ‘000 % % % % % % % % %
Engineering, ICT and Science Technicians 278.8 45.8 19.7 16 26 7 16 31 47 17 11.2
Automotive and Engineering Trades Workers 356.8 20.6 6.1 8 1 15 19 3 66 21 0.2
Construction Trades Workers 368.4 -13.8 -3.6 11 2 21 14 3 60 29 4.1
Electrotechnology and Telecommunications Trades Workers 250.5 13.2 5.6 8 2 18 14 8 63 23 6.9
Food Trades Workers 196.6 38.6 24.5 34 35 15 16 15 47 32 9.9
Skilled Animal and Horticultural Workers 139.9 23.9 20.6 35 33 17 23 13 45 34 7.2
Other Technicians and Trades Workers 192.7 9.2 5.0 32 46 17 18 12 58 24 0.7
All Technicians and Trades Workers 1,783.4 125.8 7.6 17 16 16 17 11 57 25 5.4

Sources: ABS, Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations; ABS, Characteristics of Employment; ABS, Education and Work; ABS, Labour Force (seasonally adjusted and annual averages of original data); National Skills Commission, Employment Projections; National Skills Commission, Employers’ Recruitment Insights; National Skills Commission, Skills Priority List, 2021.