The pipeline for skilled workers is struggling to keep pace with demand, according to Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia’s chief executive Todd Hacking.
Speaking at the start of National Skills Week, an initiative supported by the Australian Government that aims to raise the status of practical and vocational qualifications and training, Hacking said the heavy vehicle industry continues to suffer critical shortages of skilled workers.
“While the economy is fragile at the moment, there is still an order book extending well into next year that needs filling, and once those vehicles are on the road they need to be maintained,” Hacking said.
“We need a pipeline of skilled workers coming out of the school system, TAFE network and other Registered Training Organisations (RTO’s).
“At the moment there is way too much focus on tertiary entrance scores and not enough focus on giving young people the opportunity to choose rewarding and fulfilling careers in the trade sector.”
At the launch of National Skills Week, Minister for Skills and Training, the Hon Brendan O’Connor MP, affirmed that the trades are being hit hard by skills shortages.
“Across Australia, the labour market skill shortages are as deep as they are wide,” he said.
“The latest vacancy figures for June 2023 tell the story; we need close to 5000 motor mechanics, more than 3000 electricians and nearly 4000 metal fitter and machinists.
“It’s time that we inform and inspire people of all ages to explore the opportunities of education and training.”
Over the past year, 60 per cent of total employment growth has been in occupations that require a vocational qualification, while just 36 per cent of that growth has been in university-qualified professions.
National Skills Week chair, Brian Wexham says the need to strengthen the image of Vocational Education and Training (VET) and debunk the perception that VET is less prestigious or valuable than a university qualification.
“This is of utmost importance, especially with women in trade, indigenous programs, regional and remote programs, mature aged training/retraining, and apprenticeships,” he said.
“The focus is on changing and challenging the perceptions of what is on offer in VET and provide opportunities for industry to promote opportunities and diversity of careers and pathways across VET.”
Wexham says there is an overwhelming need to disseminate career information to students and the wider public providing a more comprehensive understanding of the sector, the roles, its diversity and the job needs of the future.
HVIA drives a variety of initiatives to promote careers across the heavy vehicle industry including hosting almost 2000 students to the 2023 Brisbane Truck Show on schools to industry tours, facilitating the National Apprentice Challenge and the ongoing “Much More Than Just a Job” campaign.
This week is also the last chance for HVIA National Awards nominations, including the National Apprentice of the Year and Peter Langworthy Future Leader Award.