Exploring ways to attract and maintain technicians in independent workshops was discussed at AAAExpo

The number one problem facing the aftermarket sector is skill shortages and the industry must work together to come up with a solution – that was the conclusion of an expert panel which discussed the issue at the recent Australian Auto Aftermarket Expo (AAAExpo).
Hosted by AAAA Director of Government Relations and Advocacy, Lesley Yates, the panel included Auto Care Association (USA) Chief Executive Officer, Bill Hanvey; Konnecting Group Managing Director, Fred Molloy; and mycar Managing Director, Adam Pay.
Lesley said that with all of the issues in the Aftermarket, including EVs, data sharing and Right to Repair, when surveyed, the biggest concern of independent workshops is skill shortages.
“It is the reason that all of our staff are stressed; why we are not taking a holiday, why we are not pumping out as much production as we would like to,” Lesley said.
“We are feeling the skills shortage issues from the beginning of the supply chain all the way through to automotive service and repair. And we are not the only industry, which is why it is such a challenge for us.”
Bill said in the US his organisation is trying to tackle the problem by convincing youngsters that a job in the automotive service and repair industry is a better deal than going to university.
“Australia is so far ahead of the United States in terms of apprenticeship programs. It is embarrassing to me that the United States promotes the only career path for an 18-year-old young man or woman is to go to the university to incur $70,000 in student loan debt and take a job as a marketing person for $35,000 a year,” Bill said.
“When in fact you can go to a technical school for two years, graduate and you are going to make a hundred thousand dollars a year and there is no student loan debt.”
Adam believes a similar opportunity exists in Australia and that business leaders must be prepared to knock on school doors and ask if they can give presentations about why the automotive industry can be a great career.
“Gone are the days where you would advertise on Seek and somebody picks up the phone and goes, yeah, I would love that job, thanks,” Adam said.
“You have to start way further down the chain now. And we’ve had some really good success by partnering with schools and it is so easy to do.”
He also said it is important to look at attracting talent from other industries rather than poaching from each other, and that retaining staff is almost more important than attracting them in the first place.
A general theme during the discussion was that females are a seriously untapped resource in the automotive industry.
Fred pointed out that skilled migration was also an important part of the puzzle.
“It is normally the very last desperate resort end, but it needs to be part of it early,” said Fred, who believes that serious consultation with government at all levels is required.
Lesley’s introduction to the session was invaluable as she discussed research with the audience that AAAA will share with its members.

For more information, or to request the research, please email info@aaaa.com.au