The AADA secretariat speaks to many Dealers and at the moment the biggest concern for so many is the crippling skills shortage we are facing in Australia. The shortage of light vehicle mechanics and diesel mechanics is not a new phenomenon, but the inability to address those shortages through skilled immigrants due to international border closures has compounded the problem.
So many sectors of the economy are experiencing skills shortages and Dealers are having to compete with other industries, including lucrative mining jobs in states like Queensland and Western Australia. Rural and regional areas seem to be bearing the brunt as many of these regions have had prior success with bringing in skilled migrants from the Philippines.
We surveyed almost 100 of our members representing more than 400 dealerships across Australia. Some 97% of respondents confirmed that they were suffering from a shortage of technicians. One third (37.2%) have a shortage of skilled technicians of more than 25% of the available positions. The majority (51.1%) of respondents have a deficit of 5% to 20%.
A recently released report by the MTAA reveals that the industry has a deficit of 31,143 positions, half of which are light vehicle mechanics.
The skills shortage has serious consequences for Dealer’s businesses including:
- delays for customers looking to service and repair their vehicles;
- low staff morale due to the pressure from dealing with unhappy customers and the additional workload being placed on them;
- impacts on Dealers ability to achieve CSI targets;
- and wage inflation.
While Australia’s borders have shut, the Federal Government has created the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) which allows certain occupations to be prioritised during COVID-19. The AADA is making the case with the Government for positions in our industry to be added but is important that members make representations to their local Member of Parliament. It is also important that we are realistic. Inclusion on the PMSOL will not be a silver bullet and caps on all overseas arrivals will constrain the numbers coming in. However, it is important that we are seen as a priority for when borders do reopen. It is also important that our Government realises that we will be competing globally for talent and we need a skilled migration program that takes account of this.
Skilled migration is only one tool, and we have to do better as an industry at attracting locals to work in our industry. The AADA Board recently discussed the issue and stressed the need to re-educate careers advisors, teachers and parents about a career in our industry. There was also debate that we need to reward those businesses that do invest in training.
This is a significant issue for our members and the AADA will continue to push our Government to recognise the importance of addressing the skills shortage in our industry. Dealers also know that as an industry we will need to step up and better promote the benefits of our industry.