So Just How Bad Are Our Skills Shortages?

So Just How Bad Are Our Skills Shortages?

t’s a constant source of frustration for most automotive workshop managers and business owners we speak to around the country – the availability of experienced and dependable staff.

The overwhelming majority of our clients are used to posting ads online looking for the right people only to have really disappointing returns. They might find the odd qualified candidate, but more often than not those that respond are either way off the mark, or contacting from all corners of the world with uncertain credentials and no clear pathway to Australia.Just how bad are our skills shortages though? It’s a tough question to answer, as reliable sources are hard to come by. Most recently, a report by the MTAA suggests that the national shortage of passenger vehicle technicians is approaching 20,000 people, which is a stark figure considering a total number of less than 100,000 employed across the country in this role. That doesn’t even account for diesel techs and panel/paint technicians.

Even if you look at this report with scepticism though, our travels suggest that just about every workshop, be it dealer or independent, could use a person with the right skills. Even if this was just the one motor mechanic, diesel mechanic, panel beater or vehicle painter in each of these businesses (and it’s often multiples), that’s going to be a very big number! That’s a hell of a lot of missing profit against the bottom line of hundreds (if not thousands) of businesses.

Here’s yet another way of looking at it: how many of these workshops are tolerating an employee that management would love to replace with someone more focused and productive, but cannot for lack of options on the local labour market? That could be an even bigger number, tied to yet more inefficiency and lost income for Australian automotive employers. This is even more pressing for car dealer-based workshops as sales profits edge closer to zero. If you’re only making money in the backend and you’re selling cars just to service them, your techs better be good.

Our business is dedicated to sourcing high quality automotive tradespeople from abroad to help local workshops navigate these challenges, as well as providing specialist migration services for those that have found their own. That’s all we do, and our track record is made up of clients all over the country that plan and strategise to minimise the impact of local labour shortages.

Our clients know how to look ahead, and they have to, as most are surprised at the low number of foreign automotive tradespeople entering the country on sponsored visas every year. The Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that across motor mechanics, diesel mechanics and panel beaters, yearly totals have been around 1000 people per year for some time. Only 150-odd of these are British, where the skills and communication abilities are most akin to our own.

This means that if you’re going to hire from overseas, you’ve got to be paying close attention and thinking ahead. The best way to do that is with Techs On The Move’s digital Candidate Pool, where fully vetted and prepared automotive tradespeople from overseas are waiting to be contacted. Better yet, our subscription-based service offsets a good chunk of the dreaded Skilling Australia Fund levy, making it both cheaper and more efficient to source good staff with us than ever before. Find our more here: