Federal Government Takes Steps To Reduce Automotive Skills Shortage

Trades Recognition Australia (TRA), part of the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, has implemented a new skills assessment process for several automotive occupations.

The changes are expected to streamline the migrant skills assessment process for automotive technicians by alleviating some of the bottlenecks and barriers facing people seeking to move to Australia.

TRA has performed five actions to help ease the process:

  1. From 1 March 2023, TRA has approved alternate assessment methods for TRA-approved Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) to service difficult-to-reach applicants, subject to meeting criteria set out in RTO contracts.
  2. From 1 April 2023, the only applicants required to undertake an Offshore Skills Assessment Program (OSAP) assessment for the occupations of Automotive Electrician, Motor Mechanic (General), Vehicle Painter, Diesel Mechanic, and Panel Beater, are those with a country of passport of Fiji, Hong Kong SAR, India, Macau SAR, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe. Other passport holders with relevant qualifications in these occupations can now access the Migration Skills Assessment programme (MSA), which is a cheaper option for applicants at $720 compared to the OSAP fees of $2280 or $3280.
  3. Planning is underway for an expression of interest among the existing TRA-approved Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) to identify additional assessors of the motor mechanic (general) and diesel motor mechanic occupations to alleviate application demand pressure.
  4. Planning is underway to allow TRA-approved RTOs to accept alternate evidence of employment in specific circumstances in response to an emerging trend preventing applicants from being able to prove employment currency and length of experience.
  5. TRA will engage with Home Affairs on the countries of passport for automotive occupations that require technical interviews (and qualification assessment where required) for a TSS visa. TRA underpins its requirement for the same standard of assessment via the OSAP programme when applicants from the same country of passport for the same occupations apply for other than a TSS visa.

The changes follow a series of meetings between the Motor Trades Association of Australia (MTAA) and the federal Minister for Skills and Training, Brendan O’Connor, and his advisors.

The MTAA told government that the industry did not want shortcuts that would lead to a poorer skills base. Instead, it sought ways to reduce the time and costs associated with the current skills assessment processes. The minister agreed with the MTAA’s position that if other countries had qualifications equivalent to or better than those in Australia, additional assessment barriers should not be placed before applicants during a skills crisis.