Apprentice funding boost to deal with the shortage of electric car mechanics

Australians training to become mechanics will be able to access up to $10,000 in financial support if they study electric vehicles.

Australians training to become mechanics will be able to access up to $10,000 in financial support if they study electric vehicles after the federal government expanded its renewable energy apprenticeship program.

Apprentices studying electric vehicle repair, as well as construction and advanced manufacturing, will quality for the assistance from June after the government removed a program requirement that study be “solely dedicated to clean energy”.

Automotive groups welcomed the change, with some saying it would help address a growing skills shortage and to prepare mechanics to deal with the increasing popularity of low-emission vehicles.

Skills and Training Minister Brendan O’Connor announced reforms to the New Energy Apprenticeships scheme, saying its expansion could assist apprentices working on hydro-electricity, solar and battery installations, as well as those studying electric vehicle maintenance.

“We must do all we can to supercharge our efforts to address climate change, as well as address the acute skills shortages we face to rewire the nation,” he said.

Under the scheme, the federal government will provide apprentices with up to $10,000 over the course of their study to offset their costs.

The Australian Automotive Dealer Association welcomed the government’s announcement on Friday, with chief executive James Voortman saying the changes would mean apprentices could train to repair electric, hybrid, petrol and diesel cars.

“With new technology coming to market, it is important that Australia has a well-trained workforce to service, repair and maintain electric vehicles,” he said.

“The shift toward EVs offers immense opportunity for the development of new skills in Australia.”

Voortman said the change could also help to address a skills shortage in the automotive industry estimated at more than 40,000 workers.

Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries chief executive Tony Weber said the crucial support for electric vehicle mechanics could help give consumers greater confidence in the market.

But Motor Trades Association of Australia chief executive Matt Hobbs said the government should consider expanding eligibility further to encompass roles such as panel beaters and motorcycle technicians needed to work on electric vehicles.

“We are pleased the government is listening but note there is more to be done,” Hobbs said.

“We look forward to continuing the discussion with the government on the important role the automotive industry can play in the transition of the economy to a low-emission future.”

More than 2200 people have signed up to the New Energy Apprentices program since it launched in January 2023.

AAP

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