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Automotive talent is scarce: here’s what employers can do

Automotive engineer works on a tablet in tech lab

With technology, business-model, and consumer-preference disruptions affecting Australia’s automotive industry, it is becoming increasingly important for automotive employers to source and secure talent with the technical skills and experience to help catapult our OEMs and suppliers into the era of connectivity, electric vehicles and autonomy. 

But finding employees with the technical prowess and experience to help do this is easier said than done. In June this year, the Motor Trades of Australia association recorded a current shortage of 31,140 skilled positions in the sector, making finding the right talent increasingly challenging for the country’s automotive companies. 

Here, we look at some strategies employers can consider when looking to hire automotive talent for the future, in the current candidate-short market. 

 

Look outside the automotive industry 

Prior to the pandemic, working visas like the TSS 457 (now 482) were a vital tool to fill skilled staffing gaps within the automotive industry. But with borders closed and international travel likely to be stunted for some time, businesses will need to shift their focus away from the automotive industry and look to untapped talent pools. 

With even greater technological advancements on the industry’s horizon, it will be beneficial for employers to look to other sectors where they can find potential candidates with the advanced technical skills they require. Though these candidates may not have the specific experience within the automotive industry, it will be important for employers to seek out those skills which are transferable and have an open mind. 

Remember, while you may have very specific experience you want an individual to possess, this simply may not exist in the current market. 

 

Embrace young talent and provide industry-specific training 

With the withdrawal of the global motor vehicle manufacturers from the Australian marketthe higher education sector’s investment in automotive engineerindropped to an all-time low and has struggled to recover ever since. Further to this, there was also a dwindling interest from graduates to pursue a career within the automotive industry, seeing them instead opt for careers within the likes of the defence or infrastructure sectors. 

With this in mind, Automotive employers should consider entering into the hiring process with an open mind. While graduates or those relatively new to the workforce may not have automotive industry-specific experience, many will likely possess the technical skill sets required for roles within the automotive industry.  

Once a pipeline of talent has been identified and tapped, employers can build robust training programs to quickly arm new-hires from alternative industries with automotive-specific knowledge. 

 

Streamline the hiring process 

To meet anticipated demand, Bayside Group National Manager Joe Galea says employers will need to rethink their traditional hiring methods if they want to quickly and effectively secure talent. 

“There is so much competition within the market when it comes to sourcing talent, and candidate confidence is high” he says. “This means job seekers will likely have several opportunities and job offers available to them, and employers need to move quickly if they want to secure the right employees.”  

“This is where partnering with recruitment professionals can be extremely beneficial. At Bayside Group, for example, we create a streamlined hiring process which moves at a pace that keeps applicants engaged, and our consultants continuously reach out to them to ensure they’re still interested in a potential offer.”  

 

Consider salary as part of your strategy to attract and retain 

Demand for talent is growing, not just within the automotive industry. And Australian employers are digging deeper and increasing salaries in the hopes of enticing potential employees. Data from SEEK shows that in-line with the growing volume of job ads, many in-demand roles have seen a rise in salary compared to pre-COVID. Though financial incentive alone is often not enough for a potential employee to accept an offer, it certainly does make it more enticing – particularly in such a competitive market. 

A challenge for employers during this time too, will be retaining staff. With The Great Resignation upon us, it is now more important than ever for employers to focus on retaining their current workforce, not just growing it. Employers should consider a review of employees’ current salaries to see if there has been any significant wage–growth as a result of the pandemic. If the average salary for certain roles has increased, it might be pertinent to consider adjusting these, as a way to incentivise staff to remain with the company rather than moving to a competitor offering more. 

With the Reserve Bank of Australia wanting to see broad wages growth north of three percent, professional white-collar workers would need to earn roughly $3200 more each year. According to The Financial Review, the anecdotal evidence suggests they may get that, and more, with some firms offering pay rises of between 10 percent and 40 percent to keep staff.  

 

Consider acqui-hiring for critical skills 

Acqui-hiring is a relatively new phenomenon seen predominantly within tech industry which essentially involves purchasing companies in order to recruit and acquire its employees, while the product of the company becomes secondary.  

For automotive companies, it may be pragmatic to consider an acqui-hire in specific areas where they are lacking key skills. However, once the acquisition takes place, the paramount objective becomes developing an effective retention strategy in order to retain these new employees in what may be a very different company culture to what they are used to. 

This is a strategy automotive companies are increasingly usingparticularly within the autonomous-vehicle or connectivity arenas, with OEMs negotiating acquisitions and partnerships so they can gain access to talent. 

 

As specialists in automotive recruitment, Bayside Group have the industry knowledge and networks to help automotive employers find the right talent for their organisation. Contact us today to begin your search for the right talent. 

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