The recent and imminent closures of automotive design and manufacturing centres has prompted fears of a skills drain from Australia as highly qualified engineers are retrenched and seek work overseas. According to the Society of Automotive Engineers Australasia (SAEA), more than 2000 professional engineers and technicians are being made redundant across Australia, 85 per cent of whom are from Victoria.
With a truck industry suffering from a shortage of suitably skilled technicians and engineers, now would be the ideal time to get an industry initiative together to transition engineers across from cars to trucks.
Most of the skilled people losing their jobs hold internationally recognised qualifications. As a result, their employment is portable to other countries where severe shortages have been reported in North America and Europe.
Workers in transition programs, developed to help workers losing their jobs cope with the closure of the major car plants, are concentrated on employees with lower level skill sets. There is little to help engineers and technicians transition across to other industries within Australia.
SAEE President. Adrian Feeney, and Executive Director Natalie Roberts met with the Victorian Minister of Manufacturing, David Hodgett recently to propose funding for a program to transition technicians across to other industries.
The proposal includes skills mapping for future employment, to demonstrate how specific skills align with, and can be utilised in other industries, one-on-one assistance through mentoring, resumé development, interview techniques, and education on employment opportunities in new sectors as well as assisting automotive engineers in finding opportunities to reskill. The proposal also calls for career networking events, connecting automotive engineers with potential employers and educating employers about the benefits that engineers can bring to businesses.
This initiative would appear to be a clear opportunity for the truck and trucking industries to get on board and seek an injection of highly skilled people into a field where the mining boom has stripped business of some its best operators.