Crying out for ag mechanics

CNH Industrial managing director (agriculture) Brandon Stannett says there is high demand for qualified service technicians. Photo by

Qualified machinery technicians are thin on the ground, according to Case IH and New Holland.

Parent company CNH Industrial recently surveyed all its Australian dealerships and found of the 352 job ads for machinery technicians put out by the group, only 41 per cent were being filled.

CNH Industrial managing director (agriculture) Brandon Stannett said the results were not a surprise.

“The survey has confirmed where the greatest need is within our dealerships, and it highlights the importance of greater investment in a larger pool of qualified technicians and spare parts experts,” Mr Stannett said.

“In smaller towns, our dealerships are often one of the biggest employers, so it’s not only farmers who are potentially losing out from labour shortages, but rural and regional communities and their economies as well.”

Mr Stannett said the inability to hire as needed left dealerships under a lot of pressure during busy times of year — particularly harvest.

The challenge isn’t only in finding qualified technicians, but also retaining them in a market where their skills are in high demand.

Of the 74 dealership surveyed, they reported a total of 800 staff vacancies with 50 per cent remaining vacant and 43 per cent only attracting two applicants or less.

NSW and Tasmania are having the most difficulty attracting first-year apprentices while, South Australia and Western Australia are finding it hardest to secure qualified technicians.

Victoria found it the toughest to recruit spare parts workers, with 80 per cent of spare parts job ads going unfilled in the state.

CNH Industrial anticipates it will take more than eight years to fill the current qualification gap.

CNH Industrial has run a dedicated Case IH and New Holland apprenticeship program through Riverina TAFE for almost five years.

The company also develops trainees at its own manufacturing facilities in South Australia and Cowra, NSW.