Skills crisis

17 December 2021

Who’s going to fix future cars?

Apprenticeships and traineeships have long created a pipeline of skilled labour for our automotive industry.

But, despite Federal Government financial support and incentives, and schemes including VACC Automotive Apprenticeships, it’s disappointing to see the number of apprentices and trainees commencing has fallen across key automotive trades.

This is especially the case in Victoria, where some apprenticeships are in freefall.

The latest statistics from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research show a significant decline in commencements over the past four years.

Nationally, there were 500 fewer light vehicle apprentices that commenced in 2020 compared to 2017, a 10.6 percent reduction.

For Australia’s two largest states, the situation is worse.

In Victoria, almost 1200 light vehicle mechanical apprentices commenced in 2017, compared to 760 in 2020, a drop of 35.6 percent.

New South Wales experienced a 14.2 percent decline over the same period.

The data is worse for apprentice panel beaters and vehicle spray painters.

Nationally, annual commencements of apprentice panel beaters fell by 31.1 percent since 2017, with vehicle spray painters falling 25.6 percent.

In Victoria, apprentice panel beater commencements fell from 203 in 2017, to only 80 in 2020, a reduction of 60.6 percent.

Commencements of apprentice vehicle spray painters in Victoria fell by 45.7 percent over the same period.

While not all states have experienced such dramatic falls, the declining number of new apprentices across these key automotive trades is concerning.

For decades, the industry has argued there are not enough people entering automotive trades and that a skills crisis is imminent.

And here it is.

Words: VACC CEO, Geoff Gwilym.

Share your thoughts! E: As featured in the Herald Sun 17 December 2021.

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