New research survey findings have shed important light on the state of the automotive industry skills shortage and technician salaries across Australia.
The survey, commissioned by the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) and research partner Fifth Quadrant has revealed that one in every two workshops has lost a technician in the last year, with one in four having lost a master technician. Similar rates of workshops currently have vacancies for technicians, with 47% currently hiring, and 31% seeking the services of a master technician.
Currently the automotive service and repair industry is short 40,000 workers, consisting of roughly 27,000 qualified technicians, and 13,500 apprentices. This equates to every workshop in the country being short one technician, with one in two workshops short an apprentice.
“The skills shortage is our industry’s most pressing issue. We invested in a groundbreaking industry wide survey to provide us clear data on what that these challenges look like at the individual workshop level, offer guidance on best practice to workshops, and to underpin our industry advocacy to government,” said Lesley Yates, Director of Government Relations & Advocacy, AAAA.
Contributing to the dynamic of the industry wide skills shortage is the significant 11.5% increase in total automotive workshops since 2021. Nearly 3,000 additional automotive service and repair workshops have joined the market in the last two years with a total of 27,620 workshops now operating across the country.
Importantly, apprentice turn-over and vacancy levels were also explored. The survey results show that nearly a quarter (22%) of workshops lost an apprentice in the last 12 months, with 29% currently seeking to hire an apprentice.
“The findings are very clear. Automotive service and repair is in demand, existing workshops are trying to maintain or expand their operation, while simultaneously, new workshops are starting up. These factors are decreasing the overall labour pool and placing pressure on workshops desperate to retain trained staff and attract new apprentices,” said Lesley.
Technician salary levels were another focus of the survey, given this is an area of conjecture within the industry. Overwhelmingly, and encouragingly technicians are being paid above award rates. Master technicians earn an average salary of $83,000 excluding superannuation, while the average salary for a first-year apprentice is $36,000.
While salary levels do continue to present staffing challenges for workshops, the survey has shown the use of non-cash benefits to entice and retain staff are being underutilised. The results show that non cash benefits at workshops, which include industry training opportunities, flexible hours, and the use of the workshop out of hours are not offered by 1 in 3 workshops. These opportunities are available at low cost, and can play a role in staff retention strategies.
The insightful full workshop employment and technician survey findings are available to AAAA members via the AAAA Member Portal.