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Automotive

Overview

This page provides high level information and data on the Automotive industry.

The Automotive industry is broad and encompasses a variety of activities and businesses. These activities include repair and service of vehicles; retailing of vehicles; parts and tools; repair, maintenance, repair and service of bicycles, outdoor power equipment, marine vessels and motorcycles; and some non-car manufacturing.

The Automotive industry is estimated to contribute $37 billion to the Australian economy, and as at May 2018 the industry employed over 356,000 Australians.

Detail of the various sectors of the Automotive industry can be found on the following pages:

Nationally recognised training for Automotive is delivered under the AUM – Automotive Manufacturing Training Package and AUR – Automotive Industry Retail, Service and Repair Training Package.

Information sourced from the most recently available Skills Forecast, the Automotive IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

IRC and skills forecasts

The Automotive IRC was not required to submit an annual update to their 2019 Skills Forecast during 2020. As such, the version published in 2019 remains the most recently published Skills Forecast for this industry.

Automotive industry IRCs

Industry cluster snapshot

Employment and training snapshot

The census data indicates that in 2016 across all industry classes that have relevance to the Automotive industry there were just over 390,000 people employed. This figure is prior to the closure of the car manufacturing plants which will have some impact on this number.

The report, Directions in Australia’s automotive industry: an industry report 2017 forecasts some decline in numbers in the industry through to 2018–19, the end of their forecast period. They also calculated that 88% of the decline in numbers in the industry is a direct result of the closure of car manufacturing plants in Australia.  

It should be noted that some of the industry classes used to calculate the employment number from the 2016 census include activities that may lie outside of the Automotive industry, so the total employment number should be seen as indicative only. The precise industry classes used to calculate the employment number are shown in the data notes. More information on employment is shown in the sector pages.

There were 68,600 program enrolments across the two automotive related training packages in 2019, increasing from 60,770 in 2018. The vast majority of enrolments were in the Automotive Industry Retail, Service and Repair Training Package. There were around 20,200 program completions, increasing from 17,950 in 2018. The proportion of subjects delivered as part of a nationally recognised program has remained steady between 2015 and 2019.

As with program enrolments, the vast majority of apprentice and trainee commencements and completions were in the Automotive Industry Retail, Service and Repair Training Package. In 2019, there were about 11,560 commencements and 5,820 completions. Apprentice and trainee commencements declined slightly between 2018 and 2019, while completions increased during the same period.

For further breakdowns of the training data, please visit the sector pages.

Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

Consistent change and evolution of technology in the Automotive industry means the technical skills required to keep pace are a key focus for the sector. Industry consultation and previous research, as highlighted in the Automotive IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, identifies significant skills demand in the industry for the following:

  • Fault diagnosis skills
  • Mechanical and electrical repair skills for modern vehicle systems, including semi-automatic driving technologies like:
    • Park assist
    • Lane departure warning
    • Autonomous emergency braking.

The Automotive IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast identifies three key opportunities and challenges for employers and learners in the industry, including:

  • Outdated public perceptions discourage enrolments: Industry feedback has suggested that outdated perceptions among learners and misinformed career advisors that industry job roles are highly manual, labour intensive and not requiring high order thinking is affecting the supply of quality learners. These perceptions have become increasingly untrue over the past ten years with the growing complexity of motor vehicles, components and diagnostic tools, along with tighter regulatory standards for service and repair work.
  • Employer dissatisfaction with diagnostic skills training: Presently, inconsistent diagnostic skills among graduates who have completed certificate III level qualifications are being reported by employers. This presents the opportunity for the Training Package to increase its focus on building and developing these skills in learners.
  • AUR learners benefit from high levels of full-time employment: Recent survey data suggests 83.5% of AUR Training Package graduates were in employment by May 2018 as opposed to 44.1% of all VET graduates. This strong learner and employer engagement presents opportunities for the Training Package.                      

In addition, three key drivers have been uncovered in the Automotive IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast as underpinning long-term change in Australia’s Automotive industry. These drivers for change are identified as an evolving economic environment, changing technology and shifting consumer preferences.

The evolving economic environment covers a range of factors affecting small businesses, including increased equipment costs due to ever changing technology, difficulty accessing technical repair information due to a reluctance among dealerships to share important product documentation, and prevailing skills shortages. Another economic factor is increased activity from key users of commercial vehicles, such as construction and mining, leading to forecasted strong jobs and skills demand in heavy vehicle-related sectors over the coming years.

Some of the key areas being impacted by changing technology in the industry include motor vehicles becoming increasingly complex as their share of electronic components increases, therefore leading to more sophisticated service and repair roles, while relationships with suppliers and customers are becoming more digital. Each of these factors leads to a need to ensure workers and learners are adequately skilled, re-skilled and up-skilled so they can remain up to date with the latest motor vehicle technology.

Shifting consumer preferences have led to an increased demand for larger, greener and more fuel-efficient cars, increasing use of a greater variety of transport options such as car-sharing and ridesharing services, and a decrease in vehicle servicing requirements coupled with increasing competition within the industry. Skill sets must evolve along with consumer preferences so that technicians are able to diagnose, service and repair all types of vehicles on the road, as well as increasing commercial acumen and relationship management skills in order to be successful in the increasingly competitive vehicle service and repair market.

Expanding on the rapid technological evolution within in the Automotive industry, is the Chapter 4: Manufacturing and Value-Chain Activities: Opportunities and Challenges report which highlights that traditional automotive businesses have already begun pursuing opportunities in electric vehicle component manufacturing and assembly. The report also identifies other growth areas within this sector for the Australian economy, including charging infrastructure manufacturing and installation, battery manufacturing, recycling, repurposing and related mining and processing activities, and electric vehicle research and development.

In addition, the 2018 report Inquiry into Electric Vehicles by the Parliament of Victoria’s Legislative Council Economy and Infrastructure Committee noted that some of the skills needed for manufacturing electric vehicles and their component parts are transferable from conventional automotive manufacturing. However, in a submission by the VACC to the inquiry it was recommended that a certificate III level apprenticeship qualification should be created that deals with the service and repair of electric vehicles. The Committee noted that there could also be vocational qualifications for electric vehicle manufacturing. 

The report, Directions in Australia’s Automotive Industry: An Industry Report 2017 also points out future skill needs of the industry in light of changes in technology, and in particular the greater uptake of electric, connected and autonomous vehicles. This has implications for upskilling in areas such as the software, coding and programming of these vehicles. There will also be a need for skills related to specialised functions in these vehicles.

Modelling included in the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) submission Recommended JobTrainer Fund Qualifications estimates skills shortages in 20 occupations equating to 31,012 positions within the Automotive industry. Key factors driving these shortages include contributing to the high number of skill shortages experienced within the Automotive Industry include that the number of vehicles on-road in Australia is growing while annual apprentice commencements in automotive trades have fallen over the decade (which were roughly 14,030 in 2010 and 11,560 for 2019), the transition to hybrid, electric and fuel cell/hydrogen vehicle technologies has placed new and increased skills demands on automotive businesses, and the widening of the gap between available skilled labour and the needs of the automotive industry due to the sharp, COVID driven, reduction in international skilled labour being available to employers (see more information on this in the COVID-19 impact section).

The sector pages provide more information for individual sectors.

COVID-19 impact

Industry Associations are providing guidance to their members in relation to the pandemic. For example, the Motor Trades Association of Australia (MTAA) members are providing updates to their members on COVID-19, with state and territory information collated on the MTAA website. Focused primarily on information about occupational health and safety, member updates also include workplace relations and other important information and there are also links to state government and the commonwealth government assistance packages to help businesses.

Bicycle Industries Australia (BIA) offers summaries on federal stimulus packages, individual state stimulus, shop resources and rider resources. An article published by SBS states bicycle sales have increased, with some stores being completely cleared out in April, due to people try to avoid crowded public transport and the closure of gyms. A bike count conducted by Bicycle Network in late April found rider numbers were up by several hundred on many off-road paths in Australia. Sydney and Melbourne have been introducing pop up bike lanes, cycleways and widening footpaths to cater for demand. Increases in bicycle repairs have also been reported.

Some associations have been heavily impacted by the restrictions introduced to control the epidemic. For example, the Boating Industry Association Ltd in Australia (BIA) announced a restructure in October 2020, which included the loss of 4 positions and changes to other roles. Although boating industry is experiencing record levels of interest and sales for boat builders, brokers and retailers, the association’s traditional source of revenue from events such as boat shows has evaporated due to severe limitations on gathering.

The Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA), commissioned ACA Research to survey more than 300 auto service and repair workshops on the effects of the pandemic, releasing the findings in May 2020. Automotive service and repair was not included in the Stage 1 shutdown. The survey report shows that 83% of automotive service and repair workshops were experiencing a decrease in revenue, with 50% experiencing a downturn of more than 30%. However, workshops appeared more likely to reduce hours than cut staff entirely, with job losses spread between the different types of employee. For the question related to government stimulus and support measures the business will use, 78% of workshops indicated they have or will access the apprentice or trainee wage subsidy.

The Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) submission Recommended JobTrainer Fund Qualifications states one of the key factors contributing to the high number of skill shortages experienced within the automotive industry is the widening of the gap between available skilled labour and the needs of the automotive industry due to the sharp, COVID driven, reduction in international skilled labour being available to employers. The JobTrainer Fund was initiated by the Australian Government as part of its Economic Response to COVID-19. Co-funded by the States and Territories, the program is providing free or low-fee training courses in areas of identified skills need. The Certificate III in Automotive Electrical Technology has been included in courses that may be available under the JobTrainer program.

Links and resources

Below is a list of industry-relevant research, references, organisations and associations. Hyperlinks have been included where available.

 

Relevant research

Report: Chapter 4: Manufacturing and Value-Chain Activities: Opportunities and Challenges – Australia. Parliament. Senate. Select Committee on Electric Vehicles

Directions in Australia’s Automotive Industry: An Industry Report 2017 – Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce

Inquiry into Electric Vehicles – Victoria. Parliament. Legislative Council Economy and Infrastructure Committee

Recommended JobTrainer Fund Qualifications – Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC)

 

COVID-19 references

Australians join global coronavirus cycling boom as bikes become key social distancing tool – SBS News

BIA restructures for the future – Boating Industry Association (BIA)

COVID 19 – Bicycle Industries Australia (BIA)

COVID-19 Help and Resources – Motor Trades Association of Australia

COVID-19 Workshop Impact Research – ACA Research; Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA)

JobTrainer Fund – Australia. Department of Education, Skills and Employment

Recommended JobTrainer Fund Qualifications – Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC)

Training Provider Search: Certificate III in Automotive Electrical Technology – myskills

 

Industry associations and advisory bodies

ARAA - Auto Recyclers Association of Australia

Association of Australasian Diesel Specialists Inc (AADS)

Australian Association of Progressive Repairers

Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Australian Industry Group (AiGroup)

Australian Motor Body Repairers Association (AMBRA)

Australian Refrigeration Council (ARC)

Australian Tyre Dealers and Retreaders Association

Auto Parts Recyclers Association of Australia (APRAA)

Auto Recyclers Association of Australia

Automotive Air Conditioning, Electrical and Cooling Technicians of Australasia (VASA)

Automotive Products Manufacturing and Exporters Council (APMEC)

Bicycle Industries Australia (BIA)

Boating Industry Association (BIA)

Boating Industry Association of New South Wales (For information see BIA website)

Boating Industry Association of Queensland (For information see BIA website)

Boating Industry Association of Northern Territory (For information see BIA website)

Boating Industry Association of South Australia (For information see BIA website)

Boating Industry Association of Victoria

Boating Industry Association of Western Australia

Business Council of Australia

Bus Industry Confederation (Ozebus)

Commercial Vehicle Industry Association Australia (CVIAA)

Construction and Mining Equipment Industry Group (CMEIG)

Cycling ACT

Cycling Australia

Cycling New South Wales

Cycling Northern Territory

Cycling Queensland

Cycling South Australia

Cycling Tasmania

Cycling Victoria

Farm and Industrial Machinery Dealers Association of Australia

Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries

Federation of Automotive Parts Manufacturers

Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia

Institute of Accident Assessors (IAA)

Institute of Automotive Mechanical Engineers (IAME)

Marine Queensland

Motor Traders’ Association of New South Wales (MTA NSW)

Motor Trades Association of Australia (MTAA)

Motor Trades Association of Australian Capital Territory (MTA ACT)

Motor Trades Association of Queensland (MTA Queensland)

Motor Trade Association of South Australia and Northern Territory (MTA SA/NT)

Motor Trade Association of Western Australia (MTA WA)

Outdoor Power Equipment Australia (OPEA)

Society of Automotive Engineers Australasia (SAE-A)

Tasmanian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (TACC)

Tractor and Machinery Association of Australia (TMA)

Truck Industry Council (TIC)

Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC)

WestCycle

 

Employee Associations

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union

 

Regulator

Australian Maritime Safety Authority

National Heavy Vehicle Regulator

Data resources and notes

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, 2016 Census – employment, income and unpaid work. Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data.

  • Employment level by 4 digit ANZSIC,
    • 2311 Motor Vehicle Manufacturing
    • 2312 Motor Vehicle Body and Trailer Manufacturing
    • 2313 Automotive Electrical Component Manufacturing
    • 2319 Other Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturing
    • 2399 Other Transport Equipment Manufacturing n.e.c.
    • 2461 Agricultural Machinery and Equipment Manufacturing
    • 2462 Mining and Construction Machinery Manufacturing
    • 2491 Lifting and Material Handling Equipment Manufacturing
    • 3501 Car Wholesaling
    • 3502 Commercial Vehicle Wholesaling
    • 3503 Trailer and Other Motor Vehicle Wholesaling
    • 3504 Motor Vehicle New Parts Wholesaling
    • 3505 Motor Vehicle Dismantling and Used Parts Wholesaling
    • 3911 Car Retailing
    • 3912 Motorcycle Retailing
    • 3913 Trailer and Other Motor Vehicle Retailing
    • 3921 Motor Vehicle Parts Retailing
    • 3922 Tyre Retailing
    • 4000 Fuel Retailing
    • 4231 Hardware and Building Supplies Retailing
    • 4231 Hardware and Building Supplies Retailing
    • 4241 Sport and Camping Equipment Retailing
    • 4241 Sport and Camping Equipment Retailing
    • 4245 Marine Equipment Retailing
    • 4245 Marine Equipment Retailing
    • 9411 Automotive Electrical Services
    • 9412 Automotive Body, Paint and Interior repair
    • 9419 Other Automotive Repair and Maintenance
    • 9419 Other Automotive Repair and Maintenance
    • 9429 Other Machinery and Equipment Repair and Maintenance
    • 9429 Other Machinery and Equipment Repair and Maintenance.

 

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET Students and Courses by AUM Automotive Industry Manufacturing Training Package and AUR Automotive Industry Retail, Service and Repair Training Package.

AUM Automotive Manufacturing Training Package, and AUR Automotive Industry Retail, Service and Repair Training Package apprentice and trainee data has been extracted from the National Apprentice and Trainee Collection.

Updated: 16 Dec 2020
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