VET failures blamed as NSW caravan business struggles to fill 30 jobs


A Sydney caravan manufacturing business is struggling to fill 30 trade-focused vacancies and experts say failures in the Vocational Education and Training system are to blame.

Avida Motorhomes and Caravans is based in Emu Plains, NSW, and is currently looking for workers across a number of roles, reports

Ben Binns, chief executive of Avida, says the business is seeking cabinetmakers, plumbers, machinists, CNC workers, upholsterers and electricians to work full time for the fast-growing company.

Avida was founded in 1965 and is one of Australia’s largest motorhome manufacturers. The business is even seeking unskilled labourers, with Binns telling, “We will take anyone”.

“We are willing to invest time and energy in people as long as they have the right attitude,” Binns said.

The company has been targeting TAFEs, high schools and universities, but has still had no luck in its search for employees. Emu Plains is approximately 58 kilometres from the centre of Sydney, but Binns believes the location and transport is not the issue.

“It has not been easy to find people and I can’t say exactly why that is, because we are right on the train line, we are only a five-minute walk from Emu Plains station, so transport is not an issue,” he told

However, Council of Small Business Australia (COSBOA) chief executive Peter Strong believes the often-criticised VET system is to blame, telling SmartCompany situations like these “have got to be a wake-up call”.

In August, the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) called for a national review of the VET sector, claiming, “Holistic VET policy has been sorely missing”.

At the time, Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) Kate Carnell told SmartCompany: “The system needs to be performance-based, you’re training people for jobs so it should be based on people getting jobs”.

Strong agrees, saying the issue stems from a “disconnect between VET and employers, and the VET trainees and employers”.

“Workers are being trained, but they are being trained in the wrong things. The training sector has been focusing on what it wants to do, not what [the employers] want,” Strong says.

“In the end it is failing those who are seeking work, as you’re not going to get the job if you don’t have the skills the employer wants.”

Avida’s job openings are almost entirely trade-based, with many suited to apprenticeships. Workers often use the VET system as non-tertiary pathway towards a trades-focused career.

Strong agrees the business’s location is not the issue, claiming “the real centre of Sydney these days is Parramatta,” which is only 37 kilometres from Emu Plains.

Strong acknowledges businesses in remote locations can struggle to find workers who are willing to move, but believes local governments should provide aid.

“It used to be that governments would go to an area where there is a skills excess, and provide information and assistance on how to move to an area requiring workers,” Strong says.

“These days, it is largely up to the business to source workers, and it is a lot of money to pay for workers to move. The governments should give businesses some assistance, because if there is a benefit to the community, they should get involved.”

SmartCompany contacted Avida Motorhomes but did not receive a response prior to publication.


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The VET guy
The VET guy
5 years ago

Hmmmm…People don’t appear to be listening to each other.

We can all accept that there is a shortage of Trade people, no surprises there. The Employer is also looking for unskilled people and wants to recruit based on attitude yet the article points blame at RTOs for teaching the wrong skills. This makes no sense, the VET system cannot be blamed for people not having the right attitude. I believe there is an opportunity in the market here as employers generally are poor at sourcing candidates and recruitment agencies are usually too expensive. This is an opportunity for those Freelancers out there to build a solution that can bring Employers and Candidates together. Maybe the Job Active network can help? Maybe not.

Employer of Apprentices
Employer of Apprentices
5 years ago

The problem is this caravan company wants to employ QUALIFIED trades people (mostly). So, they are more than happy for another employer to do all the hard yards training a young person and dealing with the VET sector (for 3-4 years) and then hope the qualified person (cabinet maker, plumber, etc) will then go to work for them manufacturing caravans. If there are 30 vacancies, the business would be big enough to run their own in-house training system, skilling and training their own staff for a number of years and then having a qualified trades person at the end of the process. Bottom line for this business….select your own…train your own….and stop asking other businesses and the VET sector to do it all for you.

The VET guy
The VET guy
5 years ago

Well said. It is so much easier to point the finger at others then to step up and take on some responsibility.

Industry Group
Industry Group
5 years ago

Both are correct – employers want the easy path and aren’t prepared to train on the job – casualisation means employers don’t want to invest in people. Shallow, short sighted approach that is genuinely damaging their businesses as quality graduates open their own businesses. BUT the whole VET system is a complete mess.. We are currently involved in the government review of the system and so far all we’ve been told is “you can’t change this, you can’t change that “. Hells bells, so they WANT a VET system that works, or not???? Seriously, work placement has no quality control standards, students are being failed through no fault of their own, and on it goes. Our industry has simply “gone it alone” and developed our own courses. While its more expensive, it’s easier than trying to deal with bureaucracy. Pity the government is still funding the garbage though.

Instructional Designer
Instructional Designer
5 years ago

I aman instructional designer. I develop the courses for RTOs based on their brief. I keep hearing “industry wants…” But when I ask for the records of consultation, which are vital to me being able to do my job anyway as they should contain contextualisation advice, there isn’t any.

Right now I am working on a project that I can see will lead nowhere. Why? Because it is a diploma level course for people who are school leavers with no experience, being delivered online and with no focus on STEM skills – particularly mathematics. The diploma is in accounting.

It’s not just the trade industries suffering. It’s all industries.

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