RV innovation

By: KIRSTIE BEDFORD, Photography by: SUPPLIED


New research proves the RV industry in this country is now a force to be reckoned with.

The RV sector is kicking some big goals when it comes to investing in the Australian economy, with new stats showing it contributes $4.5 billion of revenue to Australia per annum.

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The stats come from research carried out by the Caravan Industry Association of Australia (CIAA) in partnership with State Associations and CIA Victoria, between February and April this year.

They found more than 21,000 full-time jobs were created by the RV industry across 4,300 trade businesses.

That includes manufacturers and dealers, parts and accessory providers, service and repair, hire and storage, and camping and equipment retailers.

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And it’s Victoria leading the way, creating 47 per cent of total while 19 per cent is in New South Wales and 17 per cent in Queensland. Add caravan parks and the total economic value to the economy of the caravan and camping economy is valued at $20.4 billion per annum.

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CIAA CEO Stuart Lamont says the latest data shows the importance of the RV sector and proves, "we are a powerful contributor to the national economy. The value chain is quite widespread and the contribution to the economy is significant and shouldn’t be undervalued".

He says the sector is employing everyday Australians and, "the product is also used in a way where Australians and touring internationals get out, spend money and support local economies".

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Lamont says the industry will only grow as Australians are looking for diversity in holiday options and experience.

"While some manufacturing is declining in Australia, these latest RV numbers highlight there are plenty of career paths and business opportunities in the Australian RV industry, including design and technical as well as sales, repair, assembly, plumbing and electrics, to name just a few."

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CLOSING THE CAREER GAP

Caravan Industry Association Victoria's CEO Rob Lucas, who is responsible for the state where 90 per cent of caravans are manufactured, says overall it has achieved average annual jobs growth of more than 4.6 per cent for six years, well ahead of overall state and national employment figures.

He says caravans were helping to sustain Victoria’s tradition as the manufacturing heartland of Australia. Lucas attributes the growth to increasing production, and partly to the increasingly luxurious, premium-priced vans favoured by Australians, but he says there’s a long way to go and this month it is launching a new career and training plan to make sure it can recruit and retain for the growing market.

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"Last year we undertook a survey to understand the issue better and we found our manufacturers needed dozens of people, and there was a gap in that skill. We identified that it won’t be long before there’s a problem so we need to intervene to get them into the job market."

He says most people come to the industry because their parents work in the industry or it’s word of mouth, rather than an active job choice and they want to change that.
"We don’t think that’s sustainable, so our new strategy is about how do you intervene in that job market and get people to look at this as a solid and professional career."
He says they are already working with RMIT, La Trobe and Melbourne Polytechnic on research programs.

SERVICE AND REPAIR

"Ironically, we’ve historically been seen as a cottage industry, but 4.5 billion dollars across Australia is hardly cottage."

In addition to its career and training plan, it’s also working with the Victoria Government about programs in high schools as a way to entice students into the industry.
"We are key industries to this country, manufacturing, service and repair and retail and accessories, and it’s equivalent of trade, so we need to change the perception." 
He says CIA VIC has already spoken to other states too to push this out nationally.

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"This is our responsibility, we are a key body for this sector and we want to make sure we have plans in place to help members. It’s all part of a much bigger strategy we identified seven or eight years ago and we’re looking long term."