ADDRESSING AUTOMOTIVE SKILLS SHORTAGES
In this article, ACA Research discusses the current shortage of skilled automotive technicians, which is a well-documented and much-discussed industry issue
Car parc size and the number of workshops are increasing year on year, but the growth in technicians is not sufficient to keep up with demand, leaving a gap that is estimated at 30,000 skilled automotive technicians as of today.
While automotive VET courses remain popular with regards to enrolments, the industry doesn’t perform as well in terms of completions. Just over half of those who commenced an apprenticeship in 2015 have completed it, highlighting the scale of the educational challenge.
Additionally, it is reasonable to expect that existing technicians will require further training in the years ahead to remain up to date with innovations in areas such as power trains, safety features (for example, ADAS) and so on. This will only place a greater burden on educational providers going forward.
To highlight one aspect of the change, we can consider the rise in the number of electric and hybrid vehicles purchased over the last five years.
While we are still very much at the beginning of the transition to low and zero emission vehicles, it is broadly recognised that they will play a significant role in the drive to lower carbon emissions, with sales likely to increase exponentially in coming years.
This change has significant implications for workshops in terms of the skills and equipment required to service an electric vehicle.
The changing profile of the Australian car parc will require apprentice and trainee technicians to learn on electric and hybrid engines, which will require a reconsideration of training programs and curricula.
Decisions will need to be made around whether elements remain separated (for example, mechanical vs electrical), or if new combined modules should be introduced. Consideration is also needed of how best to deliver the necessary training to qualified technicians, and how this can fit around their day-to-day work.
So, what does all this mean for the industry? We may not yet have ‘the’ answer to the skills shortage, but what is apparent is the need to strongly consider the potential impact of these trends.
We need to consider training needs over the next five years, 10 years and beyond – in terms of both content and delivery.
Workshop operators also need to be considering the impact on their own business, and in the context of their personal intentions (for example, retirement).
Once they understand the likely timelines for change, they can make decisions around the relevance of these new areas, and the training and equipment they might need to invest in.
Finally, looking back to the broader question of skills shortages, the AAAA is well aware of this issue, and is conducting research into it in partnership with the Australian Automotive Dealer Association (AADA) and Motor Trades Association of Queensland (MTAQ).
This will serve to better understand how the industry can support apprentices at key junctures in their training, and as they move into the workforce.
If you are an apprentice (or if you know someone who is), taking part in the research is as easy as going to www.acaresearch.com.au/skillssurvey
All apprentices who take part will have the opportunity to win one of a range of great prizes, which include (among others) an ARB Fire Pit, five Chicane 26” 6 Drawer Tool Chests, 40 Hella Uni Max work lamps, and two drive day / hot lap experiences.
This column was prepared for AAA Magazine by ACA Research, the AAAA’s partners in the AAAA Aftermarket Dashboard which is delivered to AAAA members each quarter.