Mining Jobs of the Future - A New Skills Frontier

Mining Jobs – New Skills Needed Urgently

iMINCO Mining Jobs - New Skills Needed Urgently | mining-automation-haul-truck

Mining sector employment will rise by 7.4% over the next four years.

The scramble for Australia iron ore and coal coupled with the madness of insanely high commodity prices, drove Australian mining company’s profits through the roof 18 months ago, however, today it’s a very different story.

The days when you could simply show up at a mine site and grab a $100k mining job may be a thing of the past, however new research suggests that mining job growth may be a future trend.

Anyone thinking to themselves they have missed the opportunity to get into the mining action might want to start to build their new dream boards and prepare for the next wave of jobs in the mines. The new frontier of mining jobs will be lie in the area of expertise reserved for the ‘specialist’.

Entry level mining jobs, sure – they’ll still be available, but the real salary dollars lie in the skilled labour market. People who have taken the time to develop their skills in all sorts of areas from trades to management, training, Work Health & Safety and beyond, will set themselves up for a good career in the mining and resource sector from 2014.

Mining sector employment will rise by 7.4% over the next four years

The mining and resource sector in Australia is facing a critical time in its history according to a report by the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (AWPA). The real concern is that Australia does not have the skilled workforce it requires to advance the many projects that are still waiting to come online.

We’re talking over $200 billion of projects in the mining, oil and gas industry that are crying out for skilled workers who are willing to work and build the Australian resource industry into a world leader.

The real issues centre around, not the people, we have plenty of willing workers. The crux of the matter is, the challenges are training the current workforce to be equipped with new set of skills.

TheAustralian Workforce and Productivity Agency report clearly indicates that in their view employment in the mining sector will rise by 7.4 per cent over the next four years. The biggest increase in jobs vacancies will be across the oil and gas sector. However, these new jobs will require individuals gaining a completely new set of skills.

Metal fitters and machinists, structural steel and welding trades will be in demand

Production managers and a number of trade occupations such as metal fitters and machinists, structural steel and welding tradespeople and additional construction, building and engineering technicians will be in strong demand.

The report also goes on to say that while the skills that are required could transfer from other industries, a new approach is required for employers to meet the perpetual challenges of recruiting and retaining specialist workers.

As the industry gears up and shifts towards robotics and automation, the new breed of worker will also need specialised skills in remotely controlled and automated systems. We can see this starting to happen as more and more heavy machinery is being deployed on the larger mine sites in Australia – particularly in Western Australia where Rio Tinto and BHP are using driver-less dump trucks to lift productivity.

Even the 3 kilometres iron ore trains shunting the ‘brown gold’ to the distant rim of Port Hedland are operated by joystick from an air-conditioned room in the city of Perth, some thousands of kilometres away.

Automation isn’t expected to dramatically reduce the number of mining jobs

It may be true that moving swiftly towards automation may reduce the need for manual on-site operators, the automation roll out isn’t expected to dramatically reduce the number of mining jobs. Whenever there is automation, a whole new set of mining job possibilities start to materialise in the way of technicians, diagnostic specialists, electronics experts and service technicians.

To prepare for this new employment revolution, the AWPA advises mining companies, training authorities and the tertiary education system to “collaborate on a workforce development strategy to build a domestic workforce to meet future skills demand for resources operations.” In other words, take your head out of the red dirt Australia and let’s be serious about the future and get our workforce trained up now!

developing mathematics, technology, science and engineering skills

A whole new approach to training is required to prepare for the future. This means focusing on developing mathematics, technology, science and engineering skills, through the establishment of a national strategy for schools.

The future is racing towards us faster than we can turn out the qualified people who can build, manage and operate the new technology that will transform Australia’s oil, gas and mining sector. There’s talk of long lead times being required to fully develop critical skills for the sector`s future, so time is of the essence.

It’s clear the Australian mining and resource industry, the Federal and State governments, as well as education and training providers need to work together and develop a bullet-proof plan develop the workforce of the future.

From 2014 to 2018 the resource industry in Australia may suffer drastically if we don’t step up to the plate and build a technologically developed and skilled workforce.

Reference: Mining Jobs - New Skills Needed Urgently | Mining sector employment will rise by 7.4% over the next four years | iMINCO

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