A SHORTAGE of skilled workers in the automotive industry is one of the key issues to emerge from an automotive support organisation, Capricorn.

In its second annual state of the nation report, Capricorn, who commissioned research company TKP to conduct the study, found the automotive industry was struggling to attract young people to the industry.

While most of its members run mechanical workshops, 72 per cent, a smaller number also operate panel and paint, seven per cent, auto electric, six per cent, commercial truck, five per cent, and tyre and suspension, four per cent.

Capricorn Group chief executive David Fraser said the automotive industry was ‘dynamic and evolving’ and would be a great career for anyone interested in computers, gaming or coding as he described cars as ‘computers on wheels’.

“However, the automotive industry as a collective, needs to have a serious conversation about how it plans on creating a pipeline of talent to address future labour shortages,” he said.

While the report found there were many positives in the industry such as making customers happy, the joy of problem solving and finding a passion working with vehicles, work-life balance was a problem, largely due to a shortage of skilled labour.

“Thanks to government support, 39 per cent of Capricorn’s members currently have an apprentice in their business but many still believe their business is too small to take on an apprentice, which is often just not the case,” Mr Fraser said.

“Our members have been working an average of 24 years in the industry and running their own workshop for 17, so now really is the time to consider succession planning, and part of that may include considering taking on an apprentice.”

Between 2016 and 2020, the number of graduate apprentices in the automotive and engineering trades fell 23.2 per cent.

“Our report found that two thirds of members have never been approached by a TAFE-like institution looking for an apprentice, yet three out of five members have been approached by someone who is seeking to start an apprenticeship, so there’s a clear imbalance there,” he said.

“There’s a lot of government support and registered training schemes available for businesses to access, so if you’ve ever considered it, now is the time to bring on an apprentice and if you’re a young person looking for an exciting career take a look at the automotive industry.” 

From October 1, the existing Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program, AAIP, will be replaced with a new, simplified and streamlined incentives program for employers of apprentices and trainees called the Incentives for Australian Apprenticeships, IAA.

The IAA was scheduled to commence in 2020, but due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on employers of Australian Apprentices, the government delayed its implementation.

The IAA program offers various incentive payments to employers during the period of an employee’s apprenticeship and is available to employers of any size, industry, or geographic location.

Final claims for payment must be lodged by June 30, 2023.