About the manufacturing industry

Find out about work in the manufacturing industry.

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About the industry

The manufacturing industry converts raw materials into new products. Some jobs declined in recent years because of technology changes and competition, but it still employs many people in Australia.

Manufacturing includes everything we use and buy, such as:

  • food and drink
  • clothing and shoes
  • wood and paper products
  • white goods
  • cars and trucks
  • steel and cement
  • furniture and toys.

The manufacturing industry is important to Australia's economy. It employs people across many sectors. New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland have the largest manufacturing businesses.

As of November 2023, the 5 largest employing sectors in the manufacturing industry are: 1

  • bakery product manufacturing
  • meat and meat product manufacturing
  • furniture manufacturing
  • other manufacturing
  • beverage manufacturing.

Renewable energy in manufacturing

Renewable energy is increasingly being used in the manufacturing industry in Australia. Renewable energy is used to reduce carbon emissions, promote sustainability, and lower costs.

More people and businesses are focusing on renewable sources of energy. This is done by putting up solar panels on buildings, constructing wind turbines, and other things to make energy from nature.

When manufacturing businesses choose materials that don’t create a lot of pollution and get those materials from nearby places, they can also reduce their carbon footprint.

Jobs that help with producing clean energy and sustainable manufacturing practices are becoming more sought-after.

The Australian Government established The Net Zero Economy Agency to ensure the workers, industries and communities can embrace the opportunities of Australia’s transition to net zero emissions.

Work in the manufacturing industry

The industry is projected to grow from 881,000 in May 2023 to 1.02 million by May 2033 (16.3 per cent growth). 2

Most workers in this industry are aged 43 years and over and women make up 28% of all workers in this industry. This could present a good opportunity for younger people and women to enter the workforce. 3

The top 5 largest employing occupations in the industry are:

  • structural steel and welding trade workers
  • production managers
  • metal fitters and machinists
  • packers
  • cabinetmakers.

The manufacturing industry is diverse and covers a wide range of sectors. Each sector focuses on producing different types of goods, unique tasks, and specialities, for example:

Working in food and drink factories: You might work on preparing ingredients or bottling and packaging food and drink. You might operate and maintain machinery. Some entry level job roles might include:

  • Food and drink factory workers wash, cut, weigh, and measure ingredients. They may operate machinery, bottle, or pack food and drink.
  • Brewery workers pack beer in clean labelled cans and kegs ready for shipment or storage. They may operate machinery to make beer.
  • Packer's grade, pack and store fruit, vegetables, and other produce.

Working in clothing, shoes, and textiles factories: You might work with materials, leather, clothing, and footwear. Some entry level job roles might include:

  • Clothing pattern makers create patterns and templates for different clothing pieces and footwear components.
  • Sewing machinists use sewing machines to stitch together fabric or leather pieces to assemble garments or shoes.
  • Textile and footwear production machine operators use machines to process raw hides, raw textile fibres and dye, weave and knit fibres for use in textile and footwear production.

Metal and steel manufacturers: You might work on metal forming equipment. You can measure, mark and fold steel and metal to build and repair metal products. You might operate and maintain machinery. Some entry level jobs might include:

  • Product assemblers put together parts by nailing, screwing, and gluing together. You may also join parts together by riveting, crimping, soldering, or spot-welding.
  • Metal engineering process workers operate power hammers, presses and other metal cutting and shaping tools and machines.
  • Forklift drivers drive forklifts to move heavy materials, containers, crates, and other large objects.

Electrical manufacturers: This sector focuses on producing electrical components, equipment, and devices. Some entry level job roles may include:

  • Electrical and telecommunications trades assistants maintain, diagnose malfunctions, and repair malfunctions of electrical or telecommunications systems.
  • Automotive electricians repair and install electrical wiring and electrical components in motor vehicles.

For more information about occupations visit the Your Career website.


1 Source: Jobs and Skills Australia, Labour Market Insights, Manufacturing, Industry Profile Data. Released November 2023, accessed 9 February 2024. – Return to the largest employing sectors

2 Source: Jobs and Skills Australia, Employment Projections, accessed 28 March 2024. – Return to industry projections

3 Source: Jobs and Skills Australia, Labour Market Insights, Manufacturing, Industry Profile Data, released November 2023, accessed 9 February 2024. – Return to industry demographics