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The Australian water industry is a forward-thinking industry and is well known for its innovation when it comes to water operations. The industry provides services that are fundamental to our national prosperity and economic growth, including water and sewerage systems for households and businesses, and irrigation water in agriculture.
The industry has an estimated annual revenue of $23.56 billion and added $14.15 billion to the Australian economy in 2018. Over 28,000 people are employed across the water industry’s sub-sectors: water supply, sewerage, drainage services and pipeline transport (water). The water industry workforce is projected to have five per cent growth by 2024.
The industry has identified the ageing workforce as one of the top five reasons for skills shortage. The water industry workforce is three years and five months older than the national average. About 36 per cent of the water workforce is aged over 50 and is expected to retire in the next 10 to 15 years. One solution to these shortages is to increase female representation in the workforce. This is one of the industry’s strategic objectives. Currently, women make up 23 per cent of the workforce, only a 2.1 per cent increase in the past three decades.
New technologies have revamped the way industry conducts its daily operation and also how water is being treated. Australian Industry Standards has included a new project in the 2019 Water IRC Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work to ensure that the water Training Package reflects these technological developments, as well as operator certification changes and contemporary industry practices in water treatment and operations.