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Understanding skills gaps/training needs in the transport sector

impact of technological transformation

Considering the significant developments unfolding in industry generally, and the transport and mobility sector specifically, there is strong need for strong policy action to ensure the future sustainability of the industry.

Particularly, the impact of technological transformation poses important questions regarding the future of work in the sector and its continued productivity. The changing nature of operations and the associated changes to workforce skills requirements means that detrimental skills challenges are likely.

This research project will be conducted by a team of researchers – Associate Professors Victor Gekara and Darryn Snell – associated with the Skills, Training and Industry Research Network and the Global Transport and Logistics Research Group at RMIT University. It will develop empirical understanding of the likely skills gaps, shortages, and the necessary training needs to inform effective policies on effective workforce skills development.


Project background

The significance of the Transport and Mobility (T&M) sector to the Australian economy, in terms of Gross National Product, value added supply chain facilitation and employment, cannot be overstated. As of 2019, it comprised 62,121 firms, many of them SMEs and employed about 273,170 people (IBISWorld, 2019).

Although digitalisation and automation might affect employment, it will remain a major employer in coming years. Furthermore, according to a 2018 ABS report:

“Total transport activity contributed $77 billion to the Australian economy in 2015-16’.”

It was also critical to the day-to-day business of all other industries, contributing a further $45.3 billion of GDP, making up a total GDP contribution of $122.3b (7.3%) (see ABS, 2018). By all indication, the demand for transport and logistics services will continue to increase, adding more pressure on the existing capacity.

The capacity of the sector to continue performing its critical role across the economy relies on the supply and quality of its workforce. Yet, it has long been associated with chronic skills and labour supply challenges, including difficulties with recruitment and retention of younger workers, an increasingly ageing workforce and growing skills gaps. According to sector analysis by IBISWorld (2019, 19/20),

“…the sector struggled to attract highly skilled employees over the past five years, especially logistics managers, analysts, IT specialists and distribution managers.”

Recent academic and industry research attributes these issues and challenges to a number of developments and factors, including changing industry skills needs, as a result of workplace technological transformations, changing employment and training practices and a changing VET system which has impacted on the quantity and quality of training.

So far, however, there has been no comprehensive national study to provide concrete evidence of the emerging skills gaps and their implications for training needs and possible policy responses for the entire sector. This, perhaps, is due to the complexity and diversity of the industry, which, as shown in figure one, comprises a wide range of sub-sectors, industries and occupations.

The study will be national in scope and will seek to be representative of the entire T&M sector. It will employ a mixed method approach drawing on the combined strengths of industry stakeholder interviews, secondary data mining and analysis, industry research workshops and a comprehensive desktop review of literature on skills gaps and training policy responses internationally.

See the full list of iMOVE projects here

Project objectives

  1. Identify current and future skill needs in the transport and mobility sector
  2. Conduct a skills gap analysis of the transport and mobility sector
  3. Assess the training implications of emerging skills gaps
  4. Identify how T&M industries in other countries have sought to address skills challenges
  5. Propose policy responses needed to address skill needs in Australia’s T&M industry.

In three phases, it will address these questions:

  • What skills gaps exist in the transport and mobility sector?
  • What technical and soft skills areas should be addressed in training?
  • What level of skill is required?


  • What local and international initiatives / courses / thinking exist to address skill gaps in the T&M industry?
  • Is there an opportunity in this area for Australian organisations to develop internationally saleable material?

Followed by:

  • What training might resolve these skills gaps?
  • What issues are being experienced that might be ameliorated by training?
  • What delivery formats of training are most appropriate?
  • What is the willingness of industry to invest in training in particular areas?
  • Can we build on existing initiatives rather than reinvent the wheel to resolve skills gaps?

More information? Want to be involved?

For more information about this project, including profiles on the research team, plus the chance to be involved, either by contacting us to join or contribute to the study, or to take a survey about your relationship to the topic, what you think is important, and what industry and/or government policies are needed to ensure the sector’s future skill needs are met, visit our page, STUDY: Creating a national understanding of skills gaps and training needs in transport and mobility now and into the future

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