Australian mining skills shortage

Australian mining skills shortage fear – preparing for the next upturn

Don’t get caught with your mining pants down – prepare for the next Australian mining skills shortage

It seems like a couple of years back everyone was shouting from the rooftops about the “Australian mining skills shortage”. Do you remember that?

Almost 2 years later; has anything changed? What has been done about it?

Let’s turn the clock back a bit…

Are you one of the many thousands of people who kicked themselves when mining companies were taking on as many staff as they could find and you missed out on all the fun – not to mention the cash?

Ordinary people made an absolute fortune during the mining boom

It’s no secret many people made an absolute fortune during the 2012-2013 mining boom. Workers fled to the iron ore mining regions of WA to make their own pay-dirt. Waves of wealthy young miners quickly became the envy of many as they flaunted new cars, jet-skis, houses and whatever else they dreamed of – it was all within their reach.

When the mining boom hit, those people with the right skills were snapped up by mining companies and contractors, eager to secure good people who could do the job and – had the skills and experience to back it up. When demand is high, workers who have invested in learning a trade, or have taken it upon themselves to spend money learning new skills get the pick of the jobs.

The cash was flowing into the company bank accounts

Here we are in 2015 and the Australian mining and resource sector has had a 180 degree turnabout. Falling commodity prices, weakening demand and the realisation for many mining companies that during the ‘happy days’ of high iron ore prices, they employed far too many people. The cash was flowing into the company bank accounts so financial controllers thought it was quite acceptable to pay out high wages for everyone.

Will there be another mining super-cycle?

Those days have evaporated into thin air. Now, more than ever, especially during a lull in the industry, it’s time to think about the future. Will there be another mining super-cycle? Where will demand come from? Will it be other Asian countries or is it India that will lead the charge as they ramp up their projects to lift millions of its citizens out of poverty?

It’s time to get skilled up

Wherever the demand comes from, if you want to give yourself the best chance at earning a solid wage packet in a mining or resource sector job – it’s time to get skilled up!

This message was echoed in South Australia this week as the question about the decline of advertised mining job. A mining specialist reported there needs to be something done to make sure there is not another skills shortage should the markets take off again.

South Australia takes a stand against skills shortages

Making a keynote at the Adelaide Paydirt 2015 Resources and Energy conference, CEO of Resources and Engineering Skills Alliance (RESA) Phil de Courcey said that it was critical for South Australia to keep the skills-building industry moving ahead. This meant addressing the need to have more and more people of all ages, lining up to take on the next step in their careers.

Mr de Courcey went on to say, “We have moved from high level exploration and development, to a stage of just being able to keep projects going and ensuring we have the people that can deliver.”

Another reason to drive the state’s skills skyward was that the mining workforce was once bubbling along at 15,000, whereas today it is simmering at the 12,000 mark.

An economic upturn in 4 to 5 years

The forecast is for an economic upturn in 4 to 5 years, so in the meantime, the race is on to “skill-up” those people who wish to be a part of the next upswing and in the process, create a solid career for themselves. Whist career advancement and adding a wad of qualifications to your name does not guarantee employment in the mining sector; it goes a long way to making you an invaluable employee. As we say here at iMINCO; to have a job for life, you have to make yourself indispensable!

Mr de Courcey also highlighted the need for more women to be a part of the workforce; going on record saying South Australia should get ready for the future by utilising greater numbers of women in the workforce; as well as creating skillset funnels by taking on apprentices and university graduates to create an army of skilled people who can step into many roles and dissolve the skills shortage myth.

Prepares for the next wave of mining jobs

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