Fleet News podcast host Caroline Falls talks with Collin Jennings, head of government relations and advocacy at the Motor Traders’ Association of NSW about training up the automotive workforce in Australia to meet the challenge of the increasing prevalence of electric vehicles, particularly for mechanics.
“In, Australia, just in mechanics — and this is excluding areas like auto electricians and body repairers and tow truck drivers — there’s just over 116,000 employed in motor mechanics. EVs are a different system, they’re a different vehicle, and they require different skills,” said Jennings.
A key difference is they have lots of voltage running through them and need to be depowered so that they can be worked on safely. And then they need to be reinitialised, said Jennings.
“We need to upskill mechanics and auto electricians, body repairers, and tow truck drivers to understand how these work, how to safely work with them, how to turn them back on again. And that is a challenge that we have.”
“We’re running our training as quickly as we can we but that’s only been over the last 12 months and we still have in New South Wales about 49,000 licenced technicians to train. So it’s a big task.”
Jennings said it was critical to have the workforce trained to ensure confidence of the market in the transition from traditional internal combustion engine-vehicles to electric powertrain.
“If someone goes out and buys an EV they need to be able to know that if something goes wrong, they can take it to a service centre.”
Jennings was speaking on the side of the dual expos at the Sydney International Convention Centre in October — the eMobility Live and the NatRoads and Traffic expos. His association, the MTA, had a stand showcasing how to deposed and reinitialise an electric vehicle.
“If they’re in for repair, it’s things like having rubber mats on the floor and making sure that there is special equipment so that you can work on it safely,” said Jennings. “And that’s part of the change dynamics and training for the industry.”
MTA’s training programs are developed with assistance from original equipment makers, including the automotive brands, and relevant Jobs and Skills Councils, which are part of the federal government’s Department of Employment and Workplace Relations unit Jobs and Skills Australia.