Ask any business operator about their major challenges during and since Covid started and most will tell you that finding qualified personnel, is one of, if not the biggest problem they face.

For companies like Scania Australia, the task of finding  qualified technicians to keep heavy transport on the road and running efficiently is a significant hurdle they have had to overcome.

This week Scania has revealed that the first nine Filipino technicians of a group of 15 are settling into their new roles at Scania branches around Australia.

Six are already at work in Melbourne, two in Sydney, and one in Adelaide, with six more due to arrive shortly.

According to the company, the heavy vehicle diesel technicians are experienced and have worked within the heavy engineering service and repair industries for many years, both in their home country and abroad, and they bring a strong work ethic and expertise, in line with Scania values. Scania says they are exporting their talent to Australia to support their families back home.

According to Scania’s director of people and culture, Michele Gellatly, the arrival of the Filipino technicians has filled a gap that has been unplugged for some months by a lack of available experienced technicians across the industry.

“We have seen a shortage of suitably qualified locally-sourced technicians within Australia. This appears to be a wide-spread problem across the transport industry, as mining picks up and draws in large numbers of heavy vehicle technicians,” she said.

“Across Scania Australia’s company-owned service and repair branches we have several open positions for technicians even now, and we have taken in a full complement of first year apprentices in 2022, as well. In all, we have record levels of apprentices working for us, but we still need additional qualified technicians.

In 2020, Michele travelled to the Philippines with Michael Berti, Scania’s Regional Executive Manager WA, SA and QLD, to meet with prospective technicians.

“We were fortunate to meet the technicians as part of the selection process. All of the technicians from the Philippines are fully qualified and hold an AUR31116 – Certificate III in Heavy Commercial Vehicle Mechanical Technology,” she said.

“We have two new technicians working on our night shift from 4pm to mid-night,” said branch manager at Scania’s branch at Prestons in Sydney’s South-West, Daniel Milutinovic.

“They have quickly integrated with the existing crew and we’re now able to deliver an even better service to our customers with a full complement on the tools. When the brand new Scania-owned Eastern Creek branch opens later this month, our two new guys, Allan and Enrique will transfer across to the new facility and we will add in a further three new arrivals at Prestons,” he said.

“Scania is a high quality employer for technicians. We offer good pay and conditions, access to the latest tools and electronic diagnosis systems, that ensure our advanced technology trucks and buses deliver good uptime,” Daniel said.

“Scania in Australia is a very multi-cultural organisation from the workshop floor to the executive management level, and we all work together in a very harmonious way. In our workshops you would find a very diverse set of backgrounds, with many UK, European and even South Americans among our teams, so the Filipino technicians who have just arrived will be able to integrate easily,” he said.

Branch manager at Scania Dandenong in Victoria, Brendan Fulton, agrees saying that the branch has had Michael and Archie with it for a few months and they have settled in well.

“They are getting on with the job and making new friends. They have a very positive attitude and are enthusiastic about the work they’re doing,” said Brendan.

“We still have a number of vacant technician positions across multiple shifts. With the advancements in new vehicle technology, we offer all of our technicians an opportunity to become dual trade qualified in both heavy vehicle mechanical and electrical. At Scania we are committed to creating a positive work culture that offers staff genuine career development pathways,” he said.

Michele Gellatly said the company’s success in securing greater penetration of service business through popular repair and maintenance contracts has significantly increased demand for workshop hours at its branches.

“Over the past few years, we have seen a large growth of sales of new vehicles and the demand for us to service these vehicles has risen accordingly. As our vehicle monitoring systems have become more sensitive and comprehensive, we can see exactly when vehicles are due in for servicing, and this assists operators maintain a high level of profitable uptime and avoid unplanned stoppages.

“As a result, we have increased demand on the numbers of technicians required to keep these vehicles rolling. We’re constantly on the look-out for qualified technicians,” Michele said.

Scania has eight company-owned capital city-located branches that provide sales, service and parts, backed by 65 independent authorised service and repair dealers countrywide.

In March, Scania will open a brand new, purpose-built company-owned branch at Eastern Creek in Western Sydney to provide much needed additional service capacity for the Scania vehicle parc.