The postal sector includes the delivery of ordinary mail (reserved services) and parcels as well as domestic and international express services.
In WA there is an estimated 5,800 workers working in postal and courier services.
Although Australia Post is the single largest postal company in the country, many smaller companies make up the majority of postal and courier services.
Companies are sourcing alternative revenue streams from areas such as increased online trading that relies on the parcel delivery market. For the 2011-12 financial year, Western Australia’s share of the national retail spend was worth approximately $1.26 billion. Growing at twice the national rate, most purchased items would need to be shipped to the end user through a combination of air and road freight.
Technology is assisting firms to develop more efficient product delivery at the best possible price as time and traceability become a more intricate part of conducting business.
Considerable investment is being made by companies to ensure that they are best prepared for the growth of e-business and the digital economy. More flexible methods of accessing services such as improvements to tracking technology and self-service stations are being rolled out.
The roll out of the National Broadband Network (NBN) will provide businesses with more opportunities to conduct online sales with further flow-on benefits for the parcel delivery market.
A sizable number of people working in this industry do not have formal qualifications as most of the training is conducted in-house by companies to meet their specific requirements and operation of tailor made equipment.
For those who receive nationally accredited training, it is mainly in the areas of warehousing and logistics as these two have the closest fit to industry needs.
Females account for 41 per cent of the workforce, which is the highest percentage of all transport and logistics sectors in Western Australia.
Vocational education and training pathways are currently unavailable for students who would like to be involved in the industry due to forklift and motor vehicle licensing restrictions.
Sustainability and diversification have become major priorities for companies in this sector as stronger links are being made with online traders.
There are large costs associated with upgrading equipment, eg automation, which is a costly exercise beyond the reach of smaller players. For those that manage to invest in new technology, new skill sets will need to be incorporated into training.
Job roles and tasks are continually evolving as e-business changes the manner in which people conduct business. With the rapid decline in traditional mail being sent over the past few years, Australia Post has undertaken a number of cost cutting measures to minimise losses and keep postal service offerings sustainable. Job cuts were deemed necessary and set to take place over the next year in managerial, administrative and support staff roles.
Operators in this sector are susceptible to fluctuations in the market as external factors such as disposable income and fuel prices affect the level of demand for services.