Tiffany Halcoop works on a vehicle at TAFE Queensland SkillsTech. Picture: Richard Walker
Tiffany Halcoop works on a vehicle at TAFE Queensland SkillsTech. Picture: Richard Walker

100,000 jobs predicted for ‘dying’ Aussie industry

ABOUT 100,000 job openings have been forecast for Australia's automotive industry, proving opportunities remain in sectors that official records suggest may be in decline.

Jobs department research reveals there are not enough skilled workers now available to replace the natural attrition of the industry so people committed to training will be sought after.

Most of the job openings are being created as workers leave the workforce, such as retiring, or move into a new line of work - either in a different part of the automotive sector or in a new sector entirely.

The role of the mechanic has changed a lot as technology improves. Picture: iStock
The role of the mechanic has changed a lot as technology improves. Picture: iStock

In the five years to 2022, Jobs department data predicts roles will become available for 42,000 motor vehicle and parts salespeople, 27,000 motor mechanics, 10,000 vehicle parts and accessories fitters, 9000 panelbeaters, 8000 vehicle painters, 2000 vehicle body builders and trimmers and 2000 automotive electricians.

"The number of suitable applicants per vacancy is the lowest since 2008," its 2017 Automotive Trades Labour Market Research report states.

"Despite growth in demand, there has not been a corresponding increase in new supply to the labour market."

Vacant jobs for automotive tradespeople attracted an average of 0.8 suitable applicants for each vacancy.

Vehicle painters are among the workers in demand. Picture: iStock
Vehicle painters are among the workers in demand. Picture: iStock

More than a quarter of employers reported receiving applications only from unsuitable candidates and about one in seven reported receiving no applications at all.

Panelbeater vacancies attracted the least candidates (three applicants for each vacancy) as well as the lowest portion of suitable candidates (0.6 for each vacancy).

Meanwhile, vacancies for automotive electricians were the most difficult to fill, with less than a third (30 per cent) of jobs being matched with a worker.

Motor Trades Association of Australia chief executive Richard Dudley says it is "absolutely" a good time to start a career working with cars.

"We are facing historically-high skill shortages across the automotive sector … in just about every state and territory," he says.

"With the array of technology now found in motor vehicles, it should be attracting people to explore these careers.

"The work can be quite satisfying."

Dudley says there still are perceptions that automotive jobs are dirty and greasy but this is no longer the case.

He says automotive trades can also lead to workers running their own business.

Tiffany Halcoop is doing a second apprenticeship, through TAFE Queensland. Picture: Richard Walker
Tiffany Halcoop is doing a second apprenticeship, through TAFE Queensland. Picture: Richard Walker

Chrysler Jeep Dodge service manager Tiffany Halcoop holds a Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology and is about to complete her second apprenticeship - a Certificate III in Automotive Electrical Technology - through TAFE Queensland.

"I wanted to expand my knowledge I have gained already from 10-plus years in the industry, which can only add further value to my role and help me at home with fixing my own cars," she says.

"I was able to shave 2.5 years off my current studies with recognition of prior learning."

Halcoop, who is also a drift car racer, says an apprenticeship is the best way to get into the sector.

"Your hard work will pay off," she says.

The MTA Institute, in greater Brisbane, offers a five-week pre-vocational course - a Certificate II in Automotive Vocational Preparation - for people interested in an automotive trade and wanting skills to help them land an apprenticeship.

It also runs a three-day Auto Camp for school students aged 14 to 17 that offers hands-on experience in areas such as hybrid/electric vehicles and vehicle maintenance.



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