Australian automotive sector to provide 35,000 jobs by 2018

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A record skills shortage within the Australian automotive industry is set to rise from more than 27,000 to 35,000 in 2018, a new report has predicted.

The report, Directions in Australia’s automotive industry: An industry report 2017, has examined the future of the country’s automotive manufacturing sector.

It claims the industry, which will contribute $37.1 billion to the economy (2.1 per cent of GDP) beyond the closure of the regional car assembly era in October, currently employs more than 360,000 people.

“This year marks a historic occasion for the automotive industry,” the report said. “It marks the final chapter in Australian passenger car, and to some degree, automotive component manufacturing.

“From October, the automotive industry will enter a new phase, as a new entity and with a new direction.

“What is certain however, is that the automotive industry will remain a vital contributor to Australia’s economy, employing more than 360,000 people well beyond the closure of manufacturing operations and contributing around 2.1 per cent of Australia’s GDP.

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“The automotive industry will continue to face challenges both in the immediate future and over the longer term.”

Skill shortages are affecting almost half of the automotive industry, the report claims – constraining business productivity, planning, investment and growth.

It also notes that, despite its economic significance, the automotive industry “continues to struggle for appropriate recognition among government”.

The report – written by the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) research manager Steve Bletos – was released this week and has the support of senators Nick Xenophon and Sterling Griff, as well as representatives from the Motor Trades Association of Australia (MTAA).

As electric, autonomous and connected vehicle technologies become more prevalent, the report emphasises the need for “significant upskilling within the industry” and “the development of new automotive qualifications”.

“This will necessitate a greater level of resources and government support for automotive trade based training and qualifications development within the vocational education and training system,” the report said.

“As the automotive industry moves through this transition period, it is critical that government provides better clarity of its policy intentions for the future.”