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Automotive Electrical

Overview

This page provides information and data on the Automotive Electrical sector, which is one component of the Automotive industry.

The Automotive Electrical sector covers the installation, service, repair and overhaul of electrical systems and components within vehicles and machinery. Activities include air-conditioning services, battery sales and the sales of new and overhauled parts.

Nationally recognised training for the Automotive Electrical Services industry sector is delivered under the AUR – Automotive Industry Retail, Service and Repair Training Package.

For information on other automotive related industry sectors, visit the Automotive cluster page.

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

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

The industry class associated with the Automotive Electrical sector is Automotive Electrical Services. The census data indicates that in 2016, there were approximately 5,800 people employed in this sector, down slightly from just over 6,000 in 2006. By far the largest occupation within this industry class is Automotive Electricians, about 63% of employment in this industry class in 2016.

The number of those employed as Automotive Electricians has varied considerably over the period between 2001 and 2021. After steadily declining between 2014 and 2019, the employment level has trended up since 2019, with approximately 8,300 in 2021. The employment level is projected to decrease to 5,500 by 2025.

Training trends

Training snapshot

There were approximately 5,730 program enrolments in Automotive Electrical-related qualifications in 2020, an increase on the 5,580 enrolments in 2019. Program completions have decreased to around 2,670 in 2020, following an increase between 2018 and 2019 from roughly 2,310 to 2,810 respectively.

Program enrolments were relatively evenly split between certificate III (51%) and certificate II (49%) level qualifications in 2020, with 60% enrolled in the qualification cluster of Automotive Electrical Technology and the remaining 40% enrolled in Automotive Air Conditioning Technology. The main intended occupations were Automotive Electrician and Mechanic’s Assistant.

In 2020, 58% of courses were delivered by TAFE institutes, with 34% delivered by private training providers. Nearly 64% of all subjects were Commonwealth and state funded and around 29% funded through domestic fee for service.

Queensland has the highest proportion of student enrolments with 28%, followed by New South Wales (24%), Western Australia (22%) and Victoria (15%). Approximately 30% of training was delivered in Queensland, followed by New South Wales (24%), Western Australia (22%) and Victoria (15%).

After decreasing slightly from 870 in 2017 to 840 in 2018, apprenticeship and traineeship commencements have increased between 2018 and 2020 to roughly 1,120. There were approximately 380 completions, a slight decrease on 2019 and the lowest level recorded over the last nine years. The apprenticeships were mostly aimed at the intended occupation of Automotive Electrician. The largest proportion of training was reported in Queensland (30%), followed by New South Wales (24%), Western Australia (24%) and Victoria (11%).

For more data specific to your occupation, industry group or training package, visit NCVER’s Data Builder.

For more data specific to your region visit NCVER’s Atlas of Total VET.

If you are interested in extracting NCVER data to construct tables with data relevant to you, sign up for a VOCSTATS account.

Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

The Automotive IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast ranks a list of generic skills in order of importance for each industry sector. The top five ranked generic skills for the Light Vehicle sector (which includes Automotive Electrical) are:

  • Technology use and application
  • Language, literacy and numeracy (LLN)
  • Design mindset/Thinking critically/System thinking/Solving problems
  • Science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM)
  • Communication/Collaboration including virtual collaboration/Social intelligence.

The Automotive IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast indicates that technological change is impacting on the skill needs of this sector. Research suggests that the proportion of electrical components may now account for up to 20% of the vehicle’s value, up from 13% in 2015. Some of this changing technology and increase in electrical components relate to:

  • Increased number of passenger vehicles fitted with electronic engines, braking and steering systems
  • Autonomous technologies to improve safety, such as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) that employ lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control
  • Novel technologies to improve user experience including haptic sensors, 3D laminated glass and augmented reality heads up displays.

In addition, the evolution of hybrid and battery electric vehicles along with increased consumer demand for larger, greener and more fuel efficient vehicles means technicians must have evolving skill sets so they are able to sufficiently diagnose, service and repair all types of vehicles on the road. A report by the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering which examined the readiness of different Australian industry sectors to develop, adopt, and adopt new and emerging technologies found that the Australian transport sector was unprepared in a range of areas, one of which included skills availability with regards to low and zero emission vehicles, connected autonomous vehicles and high frequency mass transport.

As highlighted in the Automotive IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, industry consultations have supported the need to review a range of qualifications, including those within the Light Vehicle sector (inclusive of Automotive Electrical). The AUR Automotive Retail, Service and Repair Training Package Case for Endorsement states all ‘Diagnose and repair’ units of competency to ensure that skills and knowledge involving methods of gathering and assessing diagnostic information, interpretation of manufacturer procedures, and identifying fault symptoms and causes have been updated to reflect the need for mechanical technicians to be able to diagnose electrical faults due to increased vehicle complexity. New units of competency have been developed for a hybrid/electric vehicles skill set and the units of competency have been updated to ensure technicians have the required training to be able to work safely with high voltages. 

The Project 3b Battery Electric Vehicle Repair Case for Change states there is a demand to equip learners with broad skills in electric vehicle repair, and industry consultation has identified a skills gap relating to the advanced diagnosis of electric vehicle powertrains, and heavy electric vehicle service and repair. The uptake of electric vehicles is currently low in Australia. The 2021 State of Electric Vehicles reports that so far in 2021, 8,688 electric vehicles have been sold in Australia, up from 6,900 in 2020, representing 1.57% and 0.78% of all new light vehicle sales respectively. However, a Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) submission highlights the long lead time to complete Automotive electrical training which is at least three years or more for over 68% of apprentices. The Future Fuels and Vehicles Strategy states there has been a 20% increase in the number of battery electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid vehicles available in Australia since February 2021, and by 2030 battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are projected to make up 30% of new light vehicle sales. The State of Electric Vehicles includes the expectation that by the end of 2022, there will be an additional 27 electric vehicle models entering the market, bringing the total to an expected 58 passenger electric vehicle models available in Australia. The report also highlights the state and territory policies which may drive increased uptake of electric vehicles. While most of the policies are directed to incentivise the uptake of private passenger vehicles, the New South Wales government has released a strategy to transition its bus fleet to zero emissions by 2030.

The AUR Automotive Retail, Service and Repair Training Package Case for Endorsement also mentions manufacturer specifications will become a much more prevalent information source in completing tasks. A long-standing issue for independent repairers has been access to information from car manufacturers. In June 2021, the Australian Government passed legislation to establish a mandatory scheme for the sharing of motor vehicle service and repair information. The explanatory memorandum for the Competition and Consumer Amendment (Motor Vehicle Service and Repair Information Sharing Scheme) Bill 2021 states the Bill amends the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 to establish a scheme that mandates all service and repair information provided to car dealership networks and manufacturer preferred repairers be made available for independent repairers and registered training organisations to purchase. The legislation is due to come into effect on 1 July 2022. The Government has also released exposure draft rules to support the mandatory scheme’s implementation and operation.

The VACC submission Recommended JobTrainer Fund Qualifications indicates modelling of skills shortages within the automotive industry shows an estimated shortage of 1,790 positions for Automotive Electricians. Key factors contributing to the high number of skill shortages experienced within the Automotive Industry include that the fleet of vehicles on-road in Australia is growing while annual apprentice commencements in automotive trades have fallen over the last decade, and the transition to hybrid, electric and fuel cell/hydrogen vehicle technologies has placed new and increased skills demands on automotive businesses. The Skills Priority List includes Automotive Electrician under occupations in national shortage, with soft future demand. Analysis conducted by the VACC for their submission to the Skilled Migration Occupation Lists Review shows that the demand for automotive electricians is expected to greatly outstrip the supply over the next decade, with a shortfall of over 1,900 positions projected by 2030.

The description of work undertaken for Project 1q – Cooling and air conditioning in the AUR Automotive Retail, Service and Repair Training Package Case for Endorsement states industry recommends greater rigour in training standards for retrofitting of air conditioning and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems due to numerous safety considerations and risks that have been identified with the task. Skills gaps have also been identified in general tasks such as reading wiring diagrams and identifying gases. Units of competency have been edited to reflect safety and legislative requirements, and air conditioning units of competency have been updated to ensure learners gain knowledge of refrigerants and wiring schematics. The Case for Endorsement also recommends the qualification associated with the obsolete radiator repairer job role, AUR21416 Certificate II in Automotive Cooling System Technology, is amalgamated into AUR21216 Certificate II in Automotive Underbody Technology.

Links and resources

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

 

IRC and skills forecasts

Automotive Light Vehicle Industry Reference Committee

 

Relevant research

AUR Automotive Retail, Service and Repair Training Package Case for Change: Project 3a Accessory Fitting Project, 3b Battery Electric Vehicle Repair, Project 3c Heavy Vehicle Telematics Service and Repair – PwC’s Skills for Australia

AUR Automotive Retail, Service and Repair Training Package Case for Endorsement – PwC’s Skills for Australia

Automotive Right to Repair passes the Senate and is now law – Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association

Competition and Consumer Amendment (Motor Vehicle Service and Repair Information Sharing Scheme) Bill 2021 explanatory memorandum – Australia. Treasury

Future Fuels and Vehicles Strategy: Powering Choice – Australia. Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources

Motor Vehicle Service and Repair Information Sharing Scheme: Scheme Rules - Australia. Treasury

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

State of Electric Vehicles, August 2021 – Electric Vehicle Council

VACC Submission: Skilled Migration Occupation Lists Review – Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC)

Zero Emission Bus Transition Strategy – Transport for NSW

 

Industry associations and advisory bodies

Australian Refrigeration Council (ARC)

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

 

Employee associations

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2021, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal  

  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2025
    • 3211 Automotive Electricians.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021, 6291.0.55.001 - EQ08 - Employed persons by Occupation unit of main job (ANZSCO), Sex, State and Territory, August 1986 onwards, viewed 1 August 2021, https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/employment-and-unemployment/labour-force-australia-detailed/may-2021

  • Employed total by ANZSCO 4 digit '3211 Automotive Electricians', 2001 to 2021, May Quarter.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, 2016 Census – employment, income and unpaid work, 2006 Census –labour force TableBuilder. Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data.

  • Employment level by 4 digit ANZSIC,
    • 9411 Automotive Electrical Services.

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET Students and Courses from the following training package or qualifications:

  • AUR Automotive Retail, Service and Repair Training Package.
  • Automotive Air-conditioning Technology
    • AUR20212 - Certificate II in Automotive Air Conditioning Technology
    • AUR20216 - Certificate II in Automotive Air Conditioning Technology
    • AUR20218 - Certificate II in Automotive Air Conditioning Technology
    • AUR20220 - Certificate II in Automotive Air Conditioning Technology.
  • Automotive Electrical Technology
    • AUR20408 - Certificate II in Automotive Electrical Technology
    • AUR20412 - Certificate II in Automotive Electrical Technology
    • AUR20416 - Certificate II in Automotive Electrical Technology
    • AUR20420 - Certificate II in Automotive Electrical Technology
    • AUR30308 - Certificate III in Automotive Electrical Technology
    • AUR30312 - Certificate III in Automotive Electrical Technology
    • AUR30316 - Certificate III in Automotive Electrical Technology
    • AUR30320 - Certificate III in Automotive Electrical Technology
    • AUR40612 - Certificate IV in Automotive Electrical Technology
    • AUR40616 - Certificate IV in Automotive Electrical Technology
    • AUR40620 - Certificate IV in Automotive Electrical Technology.

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

Data covers a range of selected student and training characteristics in the following categories and years:

  • 2016 to 2020 program enrolments
  • 2016 to 2020 program completions.

 

Total VET students and courses data is reported for the calendar year. Program enrolments are the qualifications, courses and skill-sets in which students are enrolled in a given period. For students enrolled in multiple programs, all programs are counted. Program completion indicates that a student has completed a structured and integrated program of education or training. Location data uses student residence. Subject enrolment is registration of a student at a training delivery location for the purpose of undertaking a module, unit of competency or subject. For more information on the terms and definitions, please refer to the Total VET students and courses: terms and definitions document. 

Low counts (less than 5) are not reported to protect client confidentiality.

Percentages are rounded to one decimal place. This can lead to situations where the total sum of proportions in a chart may not add up to exactly 100%.

AUR Automotive Retail, Service and Repair Training Package apprentice and trainee data has been extracted from the National Apprentice and Trainee Collection, including:

  • 2011 to 2020 commencements
  • 2011 to 2020 completions 

apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2020 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

Updated: 19 Jan 2022
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