On to the Next Challenge

In this column, AAAA Director of Government Relations and Advocacy, Lesley Yates, provides an update on the AAAA’s advocacy efforts.

We hardly had enough time to chill the beer when our Mandatory Data Sharing Law sailed in and out of Parliament. One day you are struggling to explain that a car has more coding than a 787 Dreamliner, and the next you have a brand-new Law that takes everyone by surprise: an overnight success in 12 years.

In the aftermath of the new Law, at an industry event I was told “well done, but now can you fix the skills crisis?” I get it. Lack of access to repair and service information and programming, that’s tomorrows’ problem.
Today’s problem is our members can’t get staff, are overloading their teams and soon will have to turn away customers.

The skills challenge is real and every day it gets worse. We anticipate another 1,600 workshops by 2030 and that’s another 5,300 technicians.
On current analysis, it looks like we already have a least one vacancy for every physical workshop and another 0.5 gap for mobile services.

In 2021 we are short by about 30,000 technicians and when you factor in retirements and new technology demands, well, this is a problem that doesn’t go away and just doesn’t fix itself.

I will admit to feeling a little overwhelmed and exhausted, we hadn’t quite scheduled the celebration party for the June passing of the legislation and it looks like we need another miracle. Fair enough. But just like mandatory data sharing, ‘Operation Fix the Skills Shortage’ is going to be a colossal effort.

This is going to take some pretty clever strategy and considerable combined effort, but just like with Mandatory Data Sharing, along with you, the AAAA members, we can win this battle.

We have to work out the canniest and fastest way forward and then work it the way we worked the Mandatory Data Sharing message – find a solution that we can all believe in and then sell it by playing to our strengths.

It feels cruel to have another mountain to tackle – but this time we know so much more about our political footprint, we know how to leverage our local relationships with MPs, and we know how to stay on message and doggedly push a reform agenda.

When we combine our efforts we form a powerful lobby group, especially when you consider that there are an average of 169 workshops in every Australian electorate. We changed the Law – actually we created a brand-new Law – and we are ready to tackle the next mountain.

So, addressing the skills gap is our next challenge, but this time we are so much smarter and wiser than we were when we started Mandatory Data Sharing.

We know so much more about how to make a difference and how to influence the political and policy agenda.

So, buckle up people and be ready to join the fight, because here we go again!

Lesley Yates,
AAAA Director of Government Relations and Advocacy

This article was originally published in the October Australian Automotive Aftermarket Magazine.

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