One in Two Vacancies for Field Service Technicians are Left Unfilled - Here's Why

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Manpower Australia

Australia is facing a significant shortage of Field Service Technicians.

According to Jobs and Skills Australia’s latest Labour Market Update, just 47% of vacancies for Technicians and Trades Workers were filled in Q2 2023. 

We asked two of our senior recruiters to break down the greatest hiring challenges for the Field Services industry, as well as provide a brief glimpse into some of their efforts to connect businesses with the talent they need.

Difficulty Attracting Young Talent

Like many other trades, Field Services is currently faced with a rapidly aging workforce. Low initial pay, qualification requirements, and challenging working conditions pose significant barriers to entry for fresh talent entering the industry; meanwhile, the existing workforce is struggling to keep up with the frequent upskilling required to service equipment with greater software integration.

“It's a lot harder to get young people to go in and do a trade,” says Erin Johnston, the Director of Group Accounts at Manpower Australia. “They’re going to get pretty poor pay for four years, whereas they could go into a warehouse and probably earn more money straight off the cuff.”

Almost all full-time and part-time job postings for Field Service Technicians are covered by the Business Equipment Award 2020 (MA000021), with the more lucrative, contract-based work being offered to more well-established technicians who have existing relationships with big businesses.

The full-time Award rate for a Level 1 Technical Employee is $23.21/hour. For comparison, this is the same rate a Level 1 Food and Beverage Attendant would be paid under the Hospitality Award – without the requirement of having a degree in Electrical Engineering or a Trade qualification.

Erin specialises in sourcing and placing Field Service Technicians across the country. As part of her team’s efforts to lower the barrier-to-entry for young people, as well as creating more pathways for women to enter a male-dominated workforce, she’s partnered Manpower Australia with a number of prominent trade schools.

“[Young people] are more open to evolving, and generally are across more technology – so they pick things up a lot quicker,” she says. “It’s a lot harder to teach someone more experienced that the ATMs they’ve been working on are [more digital] nowadays… it used to be a lot more mechanical behind-the-scenes.”

Poor Workforce Planning

Being a Field Service Technician isn’t for everyone. Most work cannot be performed remotely, and travel is an expected part of the job.In rural areas, technicians are assigned to large "patches”in the hundreds of square kilometres, which may include multiple towns and smaller communities.

Finding the right candidate for a regional position is an equally challenging task: you need to source someone with the relevant skills and experience, who is fit enough to travel for lengthy periods of time and is comfortable working alone in remote areas.

And yet, a common trend is that businesses will not retain a Field Services Technician who meets these extremely specific requirements after they have completed a project for the business. As a result, businesses do not have talent available on-demand during major outages or faults, and technicians have to go through the trouble of putting themselves of the market every 3 to 6 months.

“[Businesses aren’t] talent pooling against anticipated demand; once the demand is there, then everybody is sort of scrambling to find those skillsets in a very competitive market.”

Paul Fairclough is the Client Solutions Director at Manpower Australia. He is responsible for helping businesses identify opportunities for improvement when hiring and maintaining a specialist workforce. 

“It’s about utilisation,” he says. “A key driver for seasoned Field Service Technicians is they want to engage with businesses who give a level of consistency and continuity throughout the calendar year, as opposed to waiting around [for] more projects.”

How Manpower Can Help

Manpower Australia manages a diverse talent pool of over 100 Field Service Technicians across the country, as well as lasting partnerships with both local and international technology brands.

Manpower can assist your business in finding the Field Service Technicians you need. To discuss your requirement with one of our specialist consultants submit an inquiry using the below button.

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