Queensland’s mining industry needs around 26,000 machine operators, graduates, and trades people in the next few years which include opportunities for skilled overseas workers.
According to skills and training advisor the Kinetic Group even although demand for minerals had dropped over the last few months there is still plenty of activity in the sector.
By 2015 some 13,000 machine operators, 6,000 graduates, and 7,000 trades people will be needed as $64 billion is being invested in the Australia state.
Concerns that a slowdown in China is set to affect the current mining boom are being dismissed. The Kinetic Group points out that mining investments in the pipeline mean that demand is set to continue for several years.
Major projects, such as those in resources and infrastructure industries, typically have a five to 10 year horizon from proposal to completion. New and expanding mining projects are predicted to almost double workforce requirements over the next 10 years, placing further pressure on an already stretched supply pool.
HSBC chief economist Paul Bloxham has stated that Australia’s mining boom isn’t over and described the slowdown in China as being ‘cyclical rather than structural’.
The Kinetic Group also points out that the resources sector is currently served by training methods that reflect the past, not the future, and currently programmes do not meet the needs of industry.
‘Employment demand is high and growing in the resources sector. So much so that mining companies are being given permission to import workers to fill skills gaps they say can not be met by the local talent pool,’ said Derek Hunter, the group’s chief executive officer.
‘We can combat the skills shortage and the business risks associated with it. However, we will need to take a new approach to training if we are to give all Australians the opportunity to be a part of the mining boom,’ he explained.
‘Without doubt that approach has to be industry led and job linked and it also has to be accelerated without compromising quality,’ he added.
The group’s annual Heartbeat report published earlier this year revealed that a high turnover rate is contributing significantly to industry costs. The Report found the annual turnover in the sector, including contractors, is 24.4% and 18.4% of employees left within the first 12 months of employment.
It estimated the cost of this at a conservative $140 million annually for direct costs of recruitment, induction and training.
‘There is significant churn of employees within the industry. This is really concerning for productivity as, based on these figures, the industry will need to replace the equivalent of its whole workforce within 5.8 years,’ Hunter said.
The report also showed that non-resident workforce is on the rise, with one third of current employees living more than 300 kilometres away from their place of work.
This trend is expected to continue. Key industry stakeholders, such as the Queensland Resources Council, expect enormous growth in the non-resident workforce. The QRC argues that any additional mining workforce could comprise up to 75% non-resident workers, with some mines opting for a 100% non-resident workforce.