This industry consists of businesses that process and manufacture natural (e.g. wool, cotton and leather) and synthetic (e.g. polyvinyl chloride: PVC) materials, for textiles, leather, clothing and footwear goods production. It also covers services associated with these goods, including fashion and textile design, dry cleaning operations, laundry operations and clothing and footwear repairs.

Key updates

Post-pandemic recovery in employment. 
The Internet Vacancy Index has shown that demand for all key occupations within the industry (Laundry Workers, Sewing Machinists, Clothing Trades Workers, Other Cleaners, Manufacturers) have recovered from 2020. However, the Labour Force Survey showed that whilst there is an increasing trend in the cumulative hours worked (e.g. Laundry workers), others are in a downtrend (e.g. Sewing Machinists) consistent with JSA’s projections in below economy-wide average demand.

Challenging operating conditions for Laundry Workers. 
A steep decline was observed in the number of Laundry Workers nationwide in the Labour Force Survey, from 15,700 in 2022 to 9,600 during 2023. According to Luke Simpkins, CEO of the Laundry Association Australia, businesses have been challenged by sharp increases in operation costs. Further, its low skill level (ANZSCO 5) omits the occupation from the Skill Priority List, Apprenticeships Priority List, Skilled Migration Lists, and other relevant subsidies and programs.


New and emerging skills
The rapid increase in the repair, reuse and recycling of textiles is predicted to have a significant impact on the industry, including the development of new skills in eco-friendly production and design. 

Demand from diverse consumer segments
Increasing consumer interest in locally made, ethical and sustainable products is providing opportunities for a new focus for businesses to focus on quality craftsmanship and strong technical skills.


International competition
Textile, Clothing and Footwear wholesalers and retailers often turn to lower cost imports for supply, reducing demand for local production. In particular, the Government has planned to reduce import tariffs on clothing from July 2024. 

Changing skills landscape
Local manufacturers who attempt to reduce operating costs with new technology investments may lead to an increased demand for higher skilled workers, and a reduction in demand for lower skilled workers.


(2021 Census)


First Nations
(2021 Census)


2028 Projection
(JSA Projections)


(2021 Census)

Workforce Plan 2024

The Workforce Plan describes workforce challenges and skill opportunities identified by stakeholders across the industries we work with and outlines strategies to address them.

The 2024 Workforce Plan outlines four key Workforce Planning Priorities to guide the strategies and planning of our JSC work, retaining the strategic intent of the Initial Workforce Plan, with modifications to align with the Australia Government’s White Paper on Jobs and Opportunities.