The Motor Traders Association of Queensland (MTAQ) is the peak body representing over 1500 businesses across Queensland. I spoke recently with Rod Camm Group Chief Executive about the challenges and opportunities for Australia and particularly automotive workers in this time of transition to electric vehicles.
Rod is from the skills industry and comes from a leadership background. With the unprecedented skills shortages being experienced both here and internationally, rapid changes are needed. Industry-based training models are needed to ensure that the system can keep up with ongoing significant advances in technology. The automotive industry is perhaps, for the first time, at a revolutionary turning point, and skills will be the key to unlock our future potential.
MTAQ represents the auto industry to government and the wider business community. One of its key services is to provide training to apprentices (up to 2,500 per year) and top-up training for qualified tradespeople. As well as education in established technologies, MTAQ trains people in the emerging technologies of the 21st century. As expected, electric vehicles feature heavily in this. Workplace health and safety is preeminent.
Top-up training is offered in safe management of batteries, as well as air conditioning and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). MTAQ operates a “Centre of Excellence” for training and also goes into workshops to train in the commercial field.
A typical “top up” training group may consist of a range of demographics — a mix of age, experience, and trades — but women represent only 4% of technicians. The majority of participants are mechanics, but auto electricians, panel beaters, and first responders are also present.
Those working in dealerships will have had some exposure to electrified vehicles (HEVs, PHEVs, and BEVs) through OEMs, but independent mechanics are not seeing much of them yet. They are getting prepared. Rod has managed to secure a range of EVs to show his trainees, including vehicles from Tesla, Hyundai, Toyota, and Mitsubishi. He is looking forward to showing his students a BYD Atto 3 later this year.
Sources in the industry say they are seeing and repairing mostly hybrids so far. This is to be expected, as they have been in the market for quite some time. I asked if there were any particular issues with BEVs and he pointed out the problems Tesla has had with ball joints (mine had to be replaced under warranty, so I understand). He attributes this problem to the extra wear from the weight and torque of the car.
“Australia has been slow to react in the take up of electric vehicles, but I see this as an opportunity for us to both get it right and rapidly catch up if we get the national plan right. I watch carefully what the UK and leading European nations like Norway are going through. We have a chance to avoid mistakes made in other countries, that is our opportunity. The need for homogenization of charging and payment options, ensuring the national grid is built on rapid chargers and exploiting the location of current automotive assets like service stations are good examples.”
MTAQ is one of the top associations offering training for future tech like this. That’s appreciated since we need our tradies prepared.
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