A new organisation, The Australia Women in Resources Alliance (AWRA), has been formed to encourage more women to find a career for themselves in the mining industry which is desperately in need of more skilled workers.
A series of strategies will be launched to increase retention of women and attract more women, said Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA) director Minna Knight.
‘AWRA will build on many of the industry initiatives and networking groups already doing things for female resources workers, this project now gives us an opportunity to unite all these organisations under one banner and take a nationally co-ordinated approach,’ she explained.
AMMA is working in partnership with the industry and the Federal Government’s Critical Skills Investment Fund for the project, which will action recommendations from the National Resource Sector Workforce Strategy.
‘Increasing the number of female workers in the resources and allied construction sectors has been identified as an essential strategy in meeting the industry’s escalating demand for workers. This includes all roles, from construction based labouring jobs right through to highly skilled professionals,’ Knight explained.
Indeed, Australian Minister for Employment Kate Ellis has declared that women are an ‘untapped resource’ in the mining and construction sectors. She suggested that updating workplaces practices at a practical level may help to reduce gender differences and boost economic productivity.
‘There are a whole range of exciting jobs available to women in industry, yet only a tiny fraction of the jobs in these areas are occupied by females,’ the minister told the Women in Industry Conference in Sydney.
‘For the mining and construction sectors, which are experiencing skills shortages, an increased focus on employing women will ultimately benefit the economy, industry and women themselves,’ said Skills DMC chief executive officer Steve McDonald.
According to Skills DMC’s 2011 Environmental Scan, women account for 11% of the mining workforce. Under the AWRA project, the focus will be on identifying gaps in the application of policy and practices at worksites while also developing guidance and assistance in terms of worksite best practices and female workforce development, Knight added.