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Challenges, solutions facing mechanics in 2024

Mechanics Australia 2024

Australia got a glimpse into its mechanic backbone earlier this year, after Capricorn its annual State of the Nation Special Report: The Skills Shortage report.

Australia’s largest automotive cooperative; Capricorn found plenty of reasons to celebrate the industry, as well as find areas of improvement.

Capricorn Group Chief Executive Officer David Fraser said while Members were confident in the future of their sector, finding skilled staff is an increasingly stressful burden on small businesses.

“Capricorn estimates that there are 13,600 vacant skilled positions across Member workshops in Australia and New Zealand with these vacancies taking an average of up to eight months to fill.” he said.

“Members have always taken on apprentices to help with a pipeline of skilled labour, and whilst appetite to hire an apprentice is increasing, retaining them is a challenge.”

Skills shortages and attracting younger people to be a mechanic were among the top challengers Members believed were facing the industry.

That was also one of the top challenges Members found with running an automotive business, as well as maintaining a healthy work/life balance.

“Overall, the stress about a lack of available skilled labour is up 12 percent on last year’s survey, a concerning trend which is having a real impact on a sector contributing over $58 billion to Australia’s economy.”

“Finding good staff is the biggest challenge Members face in running their businesses, and it’s causing operational, financial, mental and emotional stress.”

Managing with the climate

If there’s one thing that Capricorn’s report makes clear, it’s that the skills shortage is having a big impact on Capricorn Members and their businesses.

“We’re a husband-and-wife team, so the pressure of the increased workload and the decreased capacity falls on our shoulders,’ reported one Capricorn Member. “We’re working more hours for a decreasing profit margin.”

Another Member said “I’m working 70 hours a week to keep up with the workload. I’m spending less time with my family.”

Respondents also reported encountering difficulties when trying to sponsor the immigration of a skilled worker to fill a vacancy.

“The process is too complicated and time-consuming,” said one Member. “The government portals were clunky and not user-friendly at all, and procuring a migration agent was very expensive.”

Capricorn Group Chief Executive Officer David Fraser hopes that findings such as these will act as a catalyst for change. “We strongly encourage our industry partners to use this latest research to drive the change we need to see,” he said. “By helping this sector with red tape and cost reductions, the handbrake will come off this industry and the country will be better for it.”


What can mechanics do?

The State of the Nation revealed two-thirds of participants hadn’t considered skilled migration, citing the costs and complexities of the process. Employing skilled migrants might help immediate shortages, and being able to retain them long-term has yielded major benefits for workshop owners who’ve braved the process.

More than half of Capricorn Members (58 per cent) have also found employing more apprentices has helped stem the high demand for mechanics.

While it’s in no way a patchwork solution, it is another avenue for retaining long-term skilled mechanics for workshops and the wider industry. The State of the Nation report found 73 per cent of members had employed at least one apprentice in the last 12 months.

A further 40 per cent of Members said they were extremely likely to bring on an apprentice in the future, a 30 per cent increase from last year. Overall, training the next generation of mechanics was the top reason Members brough apprentices in, which is up seven per cent on last year.

With plenty of Federal Government incentives available for mechanics and workshop owners that bring on apprentices, the State of the Nation also noted an increase in Members willing to take up those benefits.

Bring on the New Year!

State of the Nation Special Report: The Skills Shortage revealed plenty of challenges facing mechanics, but also a number of areas where the industry is seeking solutions.

You can find out more about the report, as well as the benefits of joining Capricorn here

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