A survey commissioned by the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) and research partner, Fifth Quadrant, reveals that one in every two workshops lost a technician in the last year, with one in four losing a master technician. Forty-seven per cent of workshops have vacancies for technicians, while 31 per cent seek a master technician.
According to the AAAA, the automotive service and repair industry is short more than 40,000 workers – 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,” said Lesley Yates, Director of Government Relations & Advocacy at the AAAA. “We invested in a groundbreaking industry-wide survey to provide us clear data on what these challenges look like at the individual workshop level, offer guidance on best practice to workshops, and to underpin our industry advocacy to government.”
An 11.5 per cent increase in automotive workshop numbers since 2021 contributed to the industry-wide skills shortage. Nearly 3,000 additional service and repair businesses joined the market in the last two years, with 27,620 now operating across the country.
Apprentice turnover and vacancy levels were also explored, with the survey showing that nearly a quarter (22 per cent) of workshops lost an apprentice in the last 12 months, while 29 per cent are seeking to hire an apprentice.
“The findings are very clear. Automotive service and repair [are] 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 Yates.
The survey also focused on salaries, showing technicians are overwhelmingly 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 the AAAA said salary levels continue to present staffing challenges, the survey shows there is room for greater use of non-cash benefits such as industry training opportunities, flexible hours, and use of the workshop out-of-hours to retain staff. The AAAA said that only two in three businesses offer these incentives, despite their low cost.
The full survey findings are available to AAAA members via the AAAA Member Portal.