A shortage of skilled personnel is a constraint on businesses operating in the automotive industry. Declining apprentice numbers and the lack of skilled immigrants entering Australia due to COVID-19 related boarder closures have exacerbated the issue which has been growing worse over recent years.
The Government should continue its investment in the Skilling Australians Fund to address the current skills shortage and renew the focus on apprenticeships as an attractive career pathway in the automotive industry. The Government should also consider temporarily uncapping the skilled stream of the Migration Program planning levels and removing or reducing the Skilling Australia Fund levy.
A shortage of skilled labour in the automotive sector is a constraint on businesses operating in this sector. A report conducted by the Motor Traders Association of Australia (MTAA) in 2020/21 estimated a total shortage of 31,143 skilled personnel. The deficit is estimated to grow to 38,700 positions by 2022/23. There is a shortage of vehicle technicians, a critical cohort of workers responsible for servicing, repairing, and maintaining the fleet of 20 million vehicles on our roads. The impact of skills shortages includes loss of productivity, increased labour costs to retain skilled technicians, and use of sub-standard labour requiring greater supervision particularly in regional areas. There is also a huge consumer detriment to consumers who find they are unable to get their cars serviced and repaired and a massive economic impact on businesses who depend on roadworthy vehicles to provide and obtain goods and services.
The AADA fully supports the training of Australian apprentices and commends the significant investment the Government has provided for apprentices over the past two years. However, it is evident that demand for skilled labour in automotive repair services is outstripping supply which is a threat to our transport needs and we need to utilise skilled migration to provide the industry with the skills it desperately needs. We need to take measures which put Australia in a good position to attract the automotive talent we will need to maintain a safe vehicle fleet and simultaneously transition the workforce to a future in which low and zero emissions vehicles will make up a growing proportion of the fleet
In the 2017-18 Budget the Government announced a commitment to address skills shortages through the creation of the Skilling Australia Fund, with a focus on apprenticeships, trainees and pre-apprenticeships, and higher apprenticeships.
More information about the Skilling Australia Fund can be found on Department of Education website.