What makes a good automotive tradesperson?

There’s a massive range of skills and qualities that we could rattle on about in trying to answer that question! The mix of these things probably changes from workshop to workshop too, as our industry is a big and complex one – what trade, and are we talking cars or trucks, main dealer or independent, diagnostic technician or service technician?

When it all boils down though, we think there’s a key set of attributes (beyond mechanical competence) that come up time and again when good automotive tradespeople are pointed out by their managers, their customers or their peers. No matter what sort of role you have in the automotive industry, the following list is a golden set of traits we’ve collected over the years. We think any automotive tradesperson should be striving for these things if they want to be the best they can be in their trade, to really become industry professionals:

  • A positive attitude. This comes up time and again talking with workshop managers about their staff, with one of our favourites in Sydney often saying, “I can teach someone to fix cars well, but I can’t teach them to want to do it.” Being a motor mechanic – a good motor mechanic (or any other auto tradesperson) – is impossible if you’re not prepared to challenge yourself to do something with the job that keeps you motivated. It could be your raw passion for the vehicles, your hunger for more skills and knowledge, your love of team work, or hitting budgets – find what drives you and show it
  • Great communication skills. If you aspire to be a professional in your trade, the ability to communicate well with everyone around you is essential. There isn’t one way to show this either – being calm and understanding with a frustrated customer is a different communication skill to giving a service advisor a very clear and detailed set of notes on a complicated job they might have trouble understanding themselves. Either way, the key thing is to consider how well you will be understood, and how your message contributes to getting the best outcomes. Fixing cars or trucks is only part of the job
  • Attention to detail. This relates to obvious things like minimising mistakes, decreasing the time jobs take, or improving customer satisfaction results. However, there’s more to it than that. Really good tradespeople (as an example) know that changing engine oil is expected, but fixing that unreported dash rattle might not be, and when it’s fixed (and communicated!) that attention to detail will not go unnoticed
  • Master the commercial aspect of your job. It’s sometimes easy to let the money behind the industry impact your passion as a motor mechanic, but good tradespeople embrace the commercial realities of the trade and master them. This means using targets to inspire and show some leadership, understanding that when money is being make because targets are reached, it’s a recognition of effort and the value of your qualities as a good motor mechanic

The best thing for a lot of people to keep in mind here is that none of this requires you to be a master technician, to have decades of experience, or to specialise in one manufacturer or vehicle component. If you incorporate these points into the way you work in the automotive industry, you’ll be on your way to being a good motor mechanic no matter which stage of your career you’re at, even if you’re just setting off.

If you’d like to chat about your experience and finding the right role to push your career forward in the ways this blog discusses, we’re here to help: https://app-au.techsonthemove.com/job-seekers/register-with-us-candidate/


The strengths of a motor mechanic career

Choosing a career as a motor mechanic is making a decision to join a time-honoured trade that has constantly evolved for over a century. Many of us fall into it through a family connection, whilst others are driven by a passion for their vehicle of choice. Others love problem solving and thrive on seeing things put right through hard work and patience. No matter your path into the trade, in any given workshop you’ll likely find another motor mechanic whose career was kicked off by the same impulse.

However, once you’ve begun your core training as a motor mechanic, or perhaps after gaining qualification, many of us unfortunately lose track of this original motivation. The daily grind sinks in easily, and many technicians find themselves wondering if their choice of career was the right one.

We’re not here to say that the answer is always yes – everyone is different after all. However, some of the motor mechanics we speak with often overlook the range of skills and experiences their career has allowed them to develop, and they undervalue themselves and the years of dedication their careers have taken to build. If this sounds like it might be you, consider that aside from fixing cars, trucks or motorbikes, you might also have learned:

  • Strong communication skills. Have you worked through challenging situations with a disgruntled customer, or gone the extra mile to ensure a technical problem is properly and easily explained to another staff member or vehicle owner? If you’ve been a motor mechanic for awhile, we bet the answer is yes and most people weren’t doing that on the first day they grabbed a spanner. These skills don’t come easy
  • How to work under pressure and meet targets. Is there a more modern skill than that? Every motor mechanic knows what it’s like to have 15 minutes to finish a job that should take 60, or to chase an end-of-month target when it’s all on the line. There aren’t many valued professional roles that don’t require this sort of experience
  • The value of teamwork. This is another modern consideration, and certainly one that pretty much every job under the sun lists as a requirement. If you were to change your path and pursue a new career, wouldn’t the skills and experiences you’ve picked up working with others in the workshop to solve complex problems, meet shared targets and overcome challenges likely be important?
  • Leadership skills. This doesn’t mean you have to have been a foreman, or to have supervised an apprentice, or to have been getting paid the big bucks as a manager – far from it. Most motor mechanics at some stage have realised that when they do their jobs well (whatever that means in their workshop), people often pay attention and the way they get treated changes for the better. Leading by example, even if just to prove something to yourself, is an easy skill to master as a motor mechanic because you can do it all by yourself. The great thing is that every employer no matter the industry loves to see this in action

Even if you’re new to the trade or considering getting into it, don’t assume that you too will hit a wall where inspiration drops and you’ll be stuck in a rut. Look to things like the list above (and others of your own that could be added) as a reminder that a career as a motor mechanic is more than just fixing vehicles, and that these skills have value well beyond the confines of the role. Your motor mechanic career is what you make of it.

Perhaps you’re at a stage in your career that you’re looking for the right role to push your career forward, or to continue to develop these skills as you work toward goals you have set for yourself? If so, or if you’d like to talk more about what this could mean, we’d love to get in touch – it all starts here: https://app-au.techsonthemove.com/job-seekers/register-with-us-candidate/



How to stand out in a tough automotive market

If you work in the aftersales department of a commercial dealership, whether it be cars, trucks or motor bikes, chances are you know your managers are feeling the pinch at the moment. As a result, you might be too!

It’s no secret that the Australian automotive industry is not performing as well lately as it had been over the past half a dozen years or so, and this mostly comes down to large changes in the national economy that businesses can’t control. The bulk of this has been felt in sales, and to compensate for lower numbers of sold vehicles, there’s a greater focus now than ever before on extracting maximum value from aftersales. It’s a big adjustment for Aussie businesses to make, but one that other markets like the UK have long since figured out.

What does this mean for technicians now though? All around the country, we’re hearing of changes to shift structures, bonus programs, and overtime patterns, all normally aimed at increasing the workshop’s profitability. It’s easy sometimes as a technician to feel challenged by these changes, as not only does it often mean a shift in the way the job is done, but it can remove some earning potential too, and no one likes that!

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. If anything, whilst some dealers are doing it tough, now might be the ideal time to step up and push your career forward. Our clients around the country tell us that their most valued team members are those that are using this period of change as an opportunity to show everyone around them what they’re made of, and lead from the front.

They’re not just talking about foremen, master techs or their most experienced people either. It could be someone just out of their apprenticeship, going out of their way to push for efficiency targets or to inspire the technician next to them to smash a team goal; it could be a great tech that’s putting effort into better communication with their service advisors, delivering better customer service and boosting CSI outcomes. That’s the beauty of acting as a leader – anyone can do it, it tends to rub off, and the right people notice.

And, importantly, when the pressure on aftersales eases, or a manager needs to select a tech for promotion or training, who do you think they’ll be rewarding?

If you are seizing the chance to drive yourself forward and you’re looking for the next challenge, or you’re looking for a role where you can show what you’re made of, we’d love to chat about it: https://app-au.techsonthemove.com/job-seekers/register-with-us-candidate/


What inspires you in automotive?

Most people get into the automotive industry because of an underlying passion in cars (or trucks). It doesn’t matter if you’re a technician, a workshop controller, a service advisor or a service manager – the journey of your career so far probably started because you thought these machines were awesome and working with them every day made some sort of sense.

At some point though it’s easy to lose sight of this passion, as your love of the thing that once made you tick is harder to be inspired by when you’re under pressure to meet deadlines, hit targets, and pay your own bills. People get bogged down and disillusioned, and nothing good comes of that. You can’t flourish into an automotive professional whilst you’re stuck in a rut.

In chatting to hundreds of technicians (and their managers) every year, there are two things that the most inspired (and happiest) people in automotive have in common the most.

First up, these people have their own drive.

They have a drive perhaps to learn as much as they can, or to prove to themselves or those around them that they can achieve a goal. Perhaps they have a drive to improve their understanding of their trade, their role or the industry itself. In the best scenario, some of these people have the drive to help others do whatever it is that drives them, and that brings us to the other thing uniting some of the happiest automotive workers.

These people also often show that they are a leader.

Leadership doesn’t always mean you run your own team, that you answer to big bosses, or that you make the big bucks. Automotive leaders think, work and act in ways that show they care about what they do, and that people around them should care too. In automotive, the best leaders think about how they can improve and learn from every new challenge, rather than looking for easy fixes or a quick exit when things get tough.

If you’re wondering what your future in automotive is, or you’re digging deep when a job isn’t going well, we think it’s worth asking yourself about these things. What is driving you to do this job, and how can concentrating on this make things better? Hopefully you’ll also ask, can I show myself and others that I’m a leader?



Techs On The Move works with Australia’s most desirable automotive businesses, where managers across the country are always looking for people like this to grow their ‘A team’.

If you think you’ve got drive (and maybe some leadership) behind you and need a change, or if you’re looking for an environment where you can build on these qualities, drop us a line here: https://app-au.techsonthemove.com/job-seekers/register-with-us-candidate/


A Comprehensive guide to Motor Mechanics

Motor Mechanic: The Ultimate Guide

auto mechanic fixing a carThe whole meaning of being a qualified motor mechanic, or even a service technician, has changed so much in the last few decades that it’s worth actually sitting back and thinking about every now and again. As automotive industry experts that speak with and regularly visit hundreds of service managers, HR managers, workshop controllers, and of course qualified motor mechanics themselves, we’ve certainly taken note of this dramatic evolution of the job. With loads of technological change, new concepts in transport, and changing business structures all accelerating, it’s an exciting time to be a motor mechanic or service technician.

In Australia, it’s difficult to imagine now but it wasn’t very long ago when fuel cost under AUD $1 per litre, and big 6 or 8 cylinder engines dominated the roads! Even features that we take for granted like power windows were not standard in many vehicles a mere 20 years-odd ago, and a brand-new car might have had 2 airbags if you were lucky. And infotainment? The word barely even existed yet, and you definitely couldn’t specialise in it!


What Makes a Great Motor Mechanic?

While there are a number of skills that are important for any aspiring motor mechanic. There are a select set of non-skill attributes that we think any motor mechanic or technician should be striving to:

  • A positive Attitude
  • Great Communication Skills
  • Attention to Detail
  • Mastering understanding of Commercials

Remembering that the above skills should be something you work on from day one on your journey to becoming a master motor mechanic.

Motor Mechanic Certification

There are several ways to look at understanding automotive technician certification depending on a person’s location or motivation in considering this. Some will be eager to understand the pathway toward becoming a professional motor mechanic, whilst others may wish to see how their own qualifications abroad stack up against what is required in Australia. Ultimately, the Australian certification system for automotive tradespeople is similar to the processes of many other countries and is designed to provide the industry with qualified technicians that have a sound basis in the core knowledge of their trade.


Motor Mechanic Schooling Requirements

Just as much as technology is changing the way we get around, the role of a motor mechanic is changing too. The job is getting more technical, less dirty, and requires a more sophisticated set of skills than ever before. Accordingly, the coming generation of motor mechanics will need to be prepared differently. This could potentially mean some advanced schooling is required to understand the new systems in place.

Meanwhile, don’t expect the apprenticeship stage to go away. There is a lot of value in training through working under another and is something that cannot be taught in a school. Additionally, there will still be a number of qualifications recognized both locally and nationally that will be important for any mechanic to obtain as part of their career schooling requirements.


Motor Mechanic Salaries

In Australia, the minimum annual salary for a skilled technician being sponsored for a visa is $53,900 AUD. This is based on the TSMIT or Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold which is set to be about equal to the average salary earned by Australian mechanics and technicians.

There are a number of additional benefits which will help your salary package increase if you choose to work in Australia. This can include overtime or superannuation both of which can push the total possible salary package well above the minimum.

Read about Australian Motor Mechanic salaries and the extra benefits in our article


How to Become a Professional Motor Mechanic

There is a lot to becoming a professional motor mechanic. But there are some clear defining understandings that a person needs to have to be successful in their career.

A professional motor mechanic is:

  • Someone who understands the trade is not common to most people
  • Aware that becoming a master mechanic takes years
  • Always looking to become more professional
  • Understanding their work contributes to society in an important way
  • Understanding the trade allows avenues for self-improvement


What’s in Store in The Future for Motor Mechanics?

There’s been lots of discussion within (and outside of) the automotive industry about the changing role of motor mechanics as we power toward the electric vehicle age. Many have predicted that these new technologies will significantly reduce maintenance and repair requirements, prompting people to wonder whether there will even be a need for motor mechanics as the years tick by. Indeed, the term ‘qualified motor mechanic’ itself seems likely to come under fire as we move into a generation of electric vehicles.

We can’t wait for this revolutionary technology and the changes it will bring to the automotive industry – it promises cleaner, safer, and more efficient travel for us all.

However, we don’t believe this means the death or motor mechanics or the end of service technicians; rather, it’s going to demand more evolution, just like the incorporation of other market-changing technologies like power windows, curtain airbags and infotainment systems. The technicians of today already have a very different skill set to the previous generation, and the best out there know that to stay at the top of their field they need to constantly learn and grow, always bringing new skills to the job of being a motor mechanic and driving their trade forward.

The industry we work in has changed a lot too and will continue to do so as vehicle technologies evolve. Never before has there been such value placed on motor mechanics with sounds diagnostic, fault finding and electrical skills, and as our cars and trucks get ‘smarter’ and more efficient, you can bet this will only ever become more resounding. Manufacturers, main dealers and independent repairers alike will rely more on those technicians that can work methodically and creatively to remedy more and more complex vehicle systems. Almost as important are technicians who can help those around them understand these systems, whether it’s other motor mechanics in the workshop, or vehicle owners and users. More than ever before, a good motor mechanic is a great communicator.

People who don’t get this may ask ‘how will being a motor mechanic or service technician stay the same with electric cars and trucks?’ The short answer is, we’ve all been changing constantly for decades – we’re used to it! The most professional qualified motor mechanics out there embrace this, use their mastery to their advantage, and will define their own future.

Looking for a motor mechanic job abroad? Techs on The Move can help you to get in contact with employers in Australia looking to hire experienced motor mechanics. We specialise in creating a personalised experience to help you to get placed in the right position. Contact us now for a free consultation.

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:


457 Visa cost blowout looms

AUSTRALIA’S automotive sector will bear the financial brunt of the federal government’s proposed higher visa charges just to fulfil a massive skills shortfall – estimated at around 35,000 positions – currently being experienced in trades including diesel and motorcycle mechanics, panel beaters and spray painters.

The proposed changes to the 457 Visa system, to be implemented next month, will raise the cost to dealers and repair businesses to $20,000 per worker from the current rate of $12,000.

The increase is due to the government’s plans to put the $8000 difference towards the national apprenticeship scheme, called the Skilling Australians Fund Levy (SAF).

Industry representatives, including the Australian Automotive Dealers Association (AADA) and the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC), do not have a problem with that allocation of funds but it comes at a bad time with other revenue and margin challenges looming across motor businesses this year.

AADA CEO David Blackhall indicated that the increase in costs will aggravate businesses struggling to maintain their income stream after they have already been shaken by a rash of intrusive charges and changes to their financial income in 2017.

Gavin Stocks from Techs On The Move, who works exclusively with the automotive industry and is an Australian registered migration agent, said automotive businesses aiming to employ migrants need to be aware of these changes.

He told GoAutoNews Premium that he thought that the industry bodies – the AADA, VACC and the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) – could have done more last year to lobby the government against the rising charges when the changes to the 457 program were mooted.

But Mr Blackhall said discussions started mid-2017 with the minister for immigration and border protection, Peter Dutton, with the aim of reducing the financial impact and improving the skills availability to the automotive industry.

Mr Blackhall said the minister was keen to meet industry representatives but the discussions were interrupted and could not be continued as Mr Dutton was embroiled in the refugee relocation issue. At the same time, the car industry bodies were heavily involved in changes to regulations from Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

He said it was regretful that the meetings with Mr Dutton could not take place. He added that the minister was primarily concerned with people abusing the 457 system which led to people overstaying the temporary visas.

“In addition to our direct representations to the federal government, we have also leveraged our relationship with the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which has been very active in Canberra in calling for these costs to be brought down,” Mr Blackhall said.

“While we are disappointed with the outcome of this particular policy, to say that we did not expend any effort in making our case to the government is wrong.

“We recognise that the government was primarily concerned with people abusing the 457 system and overstaying their temporary visas.

“Right now, according to the MTAA, there are about 35,000 jobs in the industry that are vacant.

“This is hard on dealers and repair businesses and the extra $8000 they will need to find to support a migrant visa applicant will not help.”

Mr Stocks told GoAutoNews Premium that he was concerned that dealers are “paying twice”.

“They will be paying the $8000 levy plus they are already supporting the national apprenticeship scheme through their own staff.

“It’s a double dip,” he said.

“I think they should be exempt. But there are no exemptions. I believe the industry bodies could have done more.”

Mr Stocks said that while the levy was a blow to dealers and repairers, at least it was being directed at helping to fund a solution to the problem of the shortage of technical labour.

“I know that the feedback from the bigger dealer groups is that we have to do this. They need the labour and without that their businesses may not be as profitable.

“Dealers need the staff because it is very costly when their equipment – such as a hoist or other workshop equipment – is left idle. So (from that point of view) it’s a win-win for the dealers, the migrants and the customers.”

He said that after 20 years of skills shortage, the situation was not improving.

“We still need skilled workers,” he said.

“We actually need skilled workers more now than before because newer cars have sophisticated technology and we are finding that there’s not enough locals to fill the training gaps.

“There are skilled technicians overseas who are working on the modern technology so it seems natural that we can bring them into Australia. But it appears the government isn’t taking the same attitude.

“There is also the case where technicians and other automotive workers are leaving the industry either because of low wages or because there are more attractive opportunities for wages and career, such as the resources industry.”

Mr Stocks said Australia is in the position now where 1000 successful Visa applicants are entering the country yet 500 people in the industry are leaving each year.

His concerns were backed up by a 2017 report by the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the Motor Trades Association of Australia.

The report, called Directions in Australia’s Automotive Industry, surveyed 1100 Australian automotive businesses on skill shortages by occupation for 2018. It is the largest automotive business survey ever conducted and has a margin of error of only three per cent.

The VACC said that responses received through the survey indicated that 45.7 per cent of automotive businesses are currently experiencing skill shortages – which is the highest proportion recorded over recent years.

“The results show that for 2016/17, there is an estimated total shortage of 27,377 skilled personnel across the automotive industry,” it said.

“This shortage is forecast to grow to 35,083 during 2017/18, before moderating slightly to 31,202 in 2018/19. These estimates are based on current skill shortages as reported for 2016/17 and business demand and labour supply forecasts over the next two years as recorded within the survey.”

The report said the skills shortages were widespread across the automotive industry “however occupations within the automotive repair and maintenance sector are in highest demand”.

“Shortages of light vehicle mechanics are critically high, with a national shortage of 12,943 in 2016/17, rising to 16,656 positions in 2017/18, before declining to 14,799 in 2018/19,” it said.

“Other key skill shortages include vehicle spray painters and panel beaters (2320 and 2304 respectively), motor vehicle salespersons (2243), heavy vehicle mechanics (1973) and automotive electricians (1530).

“Survey respondents have identified vehicle painters as being the second highest occupational skill shortage within the automotive industry, behind motor mechanics.

“In the survey, 64 per cent of respondents rated vehicle painters as a critical skill shortage over the next three years or more.”


Australia’s 457 visa has been a system for businesses to sponsor skilled overseas workers to work temporarily in Australia.

It will be abolished next month and replaced with the temporary skill shortage (TSS) visa that will offer three options:

  • Short-term stream for employers to source genuine temporary overseas skilled workers in specific occupations for a conditional maximum of four years
  • Medium-term stream for employers to source highly-skilled overseas workers to fill medium-term critical skills in occupations included on a specific list for up to four years, with eligibility to apply for permanent residence after three years
  • Labour Agreement stream for employers to source overseas skilled workers in accordance with a labour agreement with the Commonwealth, on the basis of a demonstrated need that cannot be met in the Australian labour market and where standard visa programs are not available, with the capacity to negotiate a permanent residence option.

From July 1, 2012, non-resident workers on the 457 skilled immigration visa were able to transition to permanent residency if they had two years with the employer who has sponsored them and if the employer provided a full-time position in the 457 visa holder’s nominated occupation.

The federal government reported that as of June 30, 2016, there were 94,890 primary visa holders in Australia.

But in an audit by the Fair Work Ombudsman conducted between September 2013 and June 2014, it was found that 40 per cent of 457 visa holders were no longer employed by the sponsor or were being paid well below the statutory minimum wage of $53,900.

This caused the concern by the federal government about the legitimacy of the scheme and led to the changes that will be introduced next month.

By Neil Dowling