Industry Insights

In this month’s Industry Insights, we look at the expansion in the Road Transport industry against the backdrop of strong population growth in Australia.


Back in 1987 the population of Australia was 16 million, today it’s nearly 25.

In the last 30 years, the Road Freight Transport and Storage and Delivery Services workforces have grown at a considerably faster rate (79% and 86%) than population growth (50%). The above chart shows that the freight and storage services workforces weren’t particularly affected by the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2008 but certainly flattened or declined in the aftermath of the mining boom around 2012.

The opposite was the case for the Road Passenger Transport workforce, where a decline can be seen that appears to coincide with the GFC. The industry had been on an identical trajectory as the Australian population until 2008, reached its lowest ebb in 2012 and has been recovering since.


Looking at the occupational breakdown of this growth, it’s worth zooming out to the transport industry more broadly, including the Aviation and Maritime workforces.

Vehicle operators (drivers/pilots/skippers), which already comprise the largest occupational component of transport, account for 58% of the growth on the industry in the last ten years. The trend is an increase in operational workers as a proportion of the total and fewer administrators to manage more information.

To provide some industrial context, Australia has seen an 8% growth in passengers carried in the 10 years to 2016 and 40% growth in freight1 while maintaining essentially the same administrative workforce.

The recent experience of the administrative workforce in transport might provide a guide for the potential effect of autonomous vehicles on vehicle operators in the future.

[1] NTC Who Moves What Where – August 2016