Three mine-related jobs created for every one mining job filled is what The Minerals Council of Australia estimates for the next five years. These new positions would attract a wide cross section of job seekers and include everything from heavy diesel mechanics to facility cleaners.

In addition to job creation, research by The Australia Institute says the mining industry loses a large percentage of its workforce, leading to a turnover rate of about 53,000 workers at current employment levels.

Queensland and Western Australia lead the mining boom with Queensland reporting 83 operating mines as of February and 118 in Western Australia.

Queensland Employment, Skills and Mining Minister Stirling Hinchliffe says $80 billion in new projects have just been approved across the state. According to his calculations that translates to 38,000 construction and operational jobs in the Queensland resources sector between now and 2014-15.

Fast tracking apprenticeships

To combat the predicted labor scarcity some Queensland mining sites will be the first in the country to trial new fast-tracked adult apprenticeships. For at least 1000 eligible workers, the scheme will recognise prior learning and allow four-year training to be lowered to just 18 months. However, training outcomes and expectations will remain the same.

To help with training cost, mining companies can tap into $200 million government funding on offer.

Foreign “Aid”

The Government has also hatched a new plan allowing easier access to overseas workers. Under the new controversial strategy, companies can employ more foreign workers for mega projects by applying for a 457 visa which is granted on a case by case basis.

Skills and Jobs Minister Chris Evans said he was focused on training more Australians to work in mines and related construction projects. However, Senator Evans said Australia would need increased numbers of foreign workers to meet the demand of the booming resources sector, hence the introduction to visa changes.

While business welcomed the government`s solution, union officials want apprenticeship targets to reduce the use of temporary migrant workers. ACTU President Ged Kearney said. “Any plan to ease labour shortages must be matched by investment in skills training by employers.”





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