THE growth in the number of collision repair shops operated by vehicle dealerships has spurred an industry association to start promoting career opportunities as a means of ensuring sustainable staff levels for the future.
The Australian Collision Industry Alliance (the ACIA), a not-for-profit entity which started in June 2023, aims to combat the chronic skills shortage and an ageing workforce in the sector by promoting the many rewarding careers available.
The focus for the recruitment drive will be on coordinating industry stakeholders including collision repairers, industry suppliers, insurers, dealer groups and OEMs in funding and driving programs for attracting new talent to the industry.
ACIA founding director Rob Bartlett said it is aiming to attract OEMs and dealerships into the industry alliance to promote careers in what it terms is largely an invisible industry.
“The Australian Collision Industry Alliance has been established to promote rewarding career opportunities and to ensure the sustainability of an important industry,” he said.
“If the industry doesn’t act now in increasing its attractiveness and make career pathways easier to navigate, then it will continue to battle labour shortages.”
The ACIA is now looking to broaden its support from the industry by inviting businesses to sign up as members and industry partners. All contributions are tax-deductible and go to support the ACIA’s key initiatives of attracting and retaining people to expand the workforce.
“The ACIA is laser-focused on growing the number of people entering the collision repair industry, helping people understand the good jobs and long-term career prospects of the industry, and the really exciting high tech future it has,” Mr Bartlett said.
“There is an increasing trend for dealer groups to have their own collision repair facilities so they will be well versed in the pain of the recruitment and retention of skilled technicians, parts managers and estimators.
“It’s vital that everyone supports ACIA’s efforts to raise the profile of this largely invisible industry that is vital to Australia’s mobility.
“We’ll be looking to collaborate with and support everyone in automotive. While we are focused on collision, automotive is an interdependent ecosystem so attracting new people is a win for everyone.”
Mr Bartlett said that ACIA wanted any career day, any career adviser, anyone thinking about a career in the trades to have access to useful, helpful information about the opportunities and careers in the collision industry.
“So helping repairers in their communities, attending the big career events, having great online resources,” he said.
“There’s lots to do. It’s also about bringing together a pretty diverse and widespread industry to work together on this key industry challenge.”
The ACIA has established action groups and working groups to ensure it is a well run, well governed organisation and the money raised through membership and donation is wisely spent.
“We are planning research on the most targeted initiatives, and we are reaching out to all the stakeholders to get them involved,” Mr Bartlett said.
“It’s early days, we are in the start-up phase, getting things organised, but we have a lot of industry good will, money in the bank from our member donations – and a strong determination to actually make a difference.”