Accessing international automotive workers: levelling the playing field

Many automotive dealerships make extensive use of international workers to address the long-term trade skill shortages in their service departments. Typically on ‘457 visas,’ these workers bring much needed skills in mechanical repair, auto-electrical work, body repair and painting. Auto Skills Australia’s labour force modelling of skills demand and supply, indicated a national shortage of over  16,000 skilled workers as at October 2014 with the demand across the service industry remaining a major long-term problem.

It can be complex and time-consuming to deal with recruitment and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to sponsor workers. Particularly for small dealerships, this can put international workers out of reach, simply due to the administrative burden and cost. The Department directs businesses to migration agencies for assistance, but often this adds another layer of cost and administration to the process.

It can also introduce ethical issues – while migration agencies in Australia must be registered and are subject to oversight and review by the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA), once the trail leads overseas there can be a lack of transparency. One World Resourcing Director Liam McFadden said, ‘International resourcing in Australia has been generating media attention on rogue employment intermediaries exploiting the vulnerabilities of international workers, which true or not can pose a significant reputation or brand risk to businesses’.

McFadden is on a mission to extend ethical resourcing of skilled labour throughout our industry, and to ‘level the playing field’ so that even smaller dealerships can better access skilled international workers. He is currently inviting AADA members to share both their experiences and current issues as a contribution to an industry-wide approach to this critical issue. (See contact details at end of article.)

With experience sourcing international candidates for clients in Australia and New Zealand, McFadden highlights the five key issues for prospective employers to manage:

  1. Transparency
    Verify that candidates are not being charged placement fees – either upfront or as a percentage of future earnings.
  2. Skills Assessments
    How do you validate candidates’ qualifications and skills at a distance, and understand what additional training and accreditation they will need? For example construction industry clients have to coordinate the worker obtaining their ‘white card’ or other required paperwork.
  3. Visas
    Few, if any, small business owners have the in-depth understanding of immigration law required to handle this aspect of international recruitment. Both the hiring organisation and candidats need guidance.
  4. Relocation Finance
    Ethical employers meet the upfront costs of relocating workers and their families, ensuring candidates are not vulnerable to taking out often-extortionate loans to fund relocation.
  5. New Country Support Services
    A job is just one aspect of a person’s life, and people new to Australia may need assistance with a variety of aspects of their new lives. In many cases, employers are not able – or it is not appropriate for them – to help with these requirements.

You might now be feeling more overwhelmed than ever, but this is exactly the problem McFadden is seeking to solve with One World Resourcing’s Ethical Resourcing Model®. It is a ‘pick-and-mix’ package of a full range of services, from skills analysis and training, to finance packages through a major bank for relocation costs, and arranging accommodation and support services for workers. The model is proven in NZ and is now being refined and enhanced to meet evolving needs of the auto servicing industry here in Australia.

To share your experiences or discuss your critical recruitment issues, contact Director Liam McFadden ( For more about the Ethical Recruitment Model see

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