Training apprentices isn’t a quick fix to the issues thrown up by the skills shortage, but it is a solid path towards securing the long-term future of our industry.
The good news is the work has already begun. The State of the Nation Special Report: The Skills Shortage found a significant increase in the proportion of Members who have employed an apprentice in the past year - up nine percentage points to 73%.
For all the positive news, there’s still a perception in the industry that automotive careers are unattractive to young people.
It’s time to flick the switch on that narrative.
*Data from AAAA’s Automotive Technician Salary Benchmark Survey
In their comments, many Members suggested finding good apprentices was as difficult as finding skilled technicians.
We have an opportunity to talk up careers in auto, rather than talk them down.
Having a positive message, and selling it well, is the only way we’re going to see young people return to the automotive industry in the numbers we’ll need to tackle the skills shortage over the long term.
We know from previous State of the Nation reports that people working in the automotive aftermarket love:
It’s a great industry with a wide range of career opportunities. This should be our starting point.
The number of women in the automotive aftermarket in roles other than admin and retail remains low.
Encouraging more girls and women into automotive apprenticeships is both an obvious way to move the dial on the gender imbalance and to widen the pool of talent to help us tackle the skills shortage.
88% of Members had no female apprentices while 11% reported having one or two (if you’re keeping score, 1% said they had three or four). Spray painting was the most common trade role filled by female staff (16% of Members with that role in their workshop had a woman in the job). The least common role for female staff members was qualified auto electricians (7%).
Just over half of Members reported having lost an apprentice before they completed their trade qualification. Collision workshops were the worst affected (71%) and larger businesses were more likely to have been impacted. Poor performance or not being suited to the industry were the main reasons apprenticeships were terminated.
In Australia, the number of young people completing automotive apprenticeships has actually increased.
According to data from Australia’s National Centre for Vocational Education Research, between December 2018 and December 2022, the number of people completing their automotive apprenticeships was up 58.6%.
There were 3,900 completions in the quarter ending December 2022.