Rising vehicle collisions causing panel beater shortage
A growing number of vehicle collisions resulting from increased congestion on our roads has led to a shortage of panel beaters, according to an industry body.
New statistics from the Insurance Council of NZ show the number of private vehicle related claims in New Zealand has increased by more than five percent, to 422,429 annually, since 2013.
Collision Repair Association (CRA) general manager Neil Pritchard says that despite an increase in cars with collision prevention technology, the sheer number of vehicles on the road is increasing the risk of accidents for all drivers.
“New Zealand has the fourth highest level of car ownership in the world but also one of the oldest fleets, which means the average vehicle has safety technology more than 14 years old,” he says.
He says in the past two years, new vehicle registrations have reached record levels driven by high net migration and lower fuel prices.
“This year alone New Zealanders registered around 140,000 new cars – which is its highest ever. The increased number of cars on the roads is leading to more collisions,” he says.
Pritchard says that as the number of insurance claims and demand for vehicle repair services has increased, it has put further pressure on the industry, which is currently forecasting a shortage of new panel beaters over the next three years.
“Right now we need 600 new panel beater apprentices to enter the industry over the next three years to answer the demand – we are getting about half that number currently,” he says.
Pritchard says the rate of development in the vehicle industry has advanced quickly and it is also changing the role of panel beaters.
He says the level of technology in new vehicles is significantly different to older cars in the nation’s fleet.
“Modern cars are made from more advanced materials including high density steel and even aluminium. Their integrated safety systems mean that what used to be a straightforward task such as changing out a windscreen is now far more complex as an array of sensors and cameras must also be reattached.
“This means the technical capabilities required of the panel beater are far higher, involving more sophisticated diagnostic tools and knowledge of new welding techniques and modern adhesives,” he says.
Pritchard says compounding the shortage is the potential impact of many baby boomer panel beaters reaching retirement age at the same age and exiting the industry.
He says the industry has launched a marketing campaign and scholarship programme to help recruit hundreds of new apprentices into the industry.
More details www.collisionrepair.co.nz