Australia is starting to see an upturn in the mining and resources sector after ending 2018 with a record-breaking year and continuing this growth into 2019. 
Western Australia plays a huge part in this success, but there are plenty of discussions around the current skills shortage.
In this article we explore:
- Growth in the mining & resources sector
- What jobs are available
- Why there is a skills shortage
- What we are doing to prevent it
Growth in the resources and mining sector
The Resources and Energy Quarterly report June 2019, released by the Australian Government, Department of Industry, Innovation and Science reported:
“In recent years, we have predicted commodity export earnings would peak in 2018 – 19. As recently as March 2019, we suggested record earnings of $278 billion in 2018 – 19… Our forecast for 2018 – 19 looks to be largely on target but, massive as this revenue is… Resource and energy commodity earnings in 2019 – 20 have been revised up by $12.9 billion to $285 billion.” 
This is a positive sign for the Australian resources and mining sector, along with the fact that over the next 4 years, 57 new mining projects are expected to come into production, of which 30 are located in WA. 
Whilst there is some disagreement over the number of new jobs this is creating, we are still evidently experiencing a skills shortage with new workforce demands at levels not seen since the last mining boom in 2007 – 2013.
What jobs are available
The jobs that are available due to this skills shortage in the mining and resources sector, vary between the nations states.
According to Hays Recruiting , the main jobs where there is currently a skills shortage in WA include:
- Mine plant operators
- Mining engineers
- Drill and blast operators
- Exploration Geologists
- Heavy diesel fitters
- Dump truck operators
- Along with other various jobs that are required to get a mine site and facilities up and running, such as construction and plumbing.
Why is there a skills shortage?
There are various things that have influenced this skills shortage one way or another. These include:
- According to the Minerals Council of Australia, an industry association, the number of tertiary enrolments for students studying mining engineering has been declining over the past six years. To put this into perspective, during the mining boom (2007 – 2013), there were 300 graduates per year, however based on current statistics, the number of graduates is expected to fall to 50 by 2022.
- CCIWA chief executive Paul Everingham suggested that parents could be part of the reasoning behind the skills shortage, as they may have dissuaded their children from pursuing mining-related courses, by telling them that there were no jobs in the sector. 
- According to Saracen Mineral Holdings, part of the issue is the fact that big construction projects along the eastern seaboard are attracting a range of engineers away from the mining sector.
What are we doing to prevent it?
Like many industries, mining is seeing technology advancements through automation, robotics and artificial intelligence. It’s an exciting time to be a part of the industry. But all of these advancements, have not been enough to entice more students to take part in mining courses
Here are some ideas that Australian businesses have been working on to encourage more people into the growing sector:
Incentives to attract students to study mining and engineering subjects
- Attractive apprenticeship and trainee programs
- Employers are offering more flexible working rosters, relocation packages and allowances to entice workers into the industry
- Hays WA State Director Chris Kent said mining and METS (mining equipment, technology and services) companies are looking at new recruitment methods to source the right workers. 
- On a broader level, Kent stated “the sector is trying to attract new talent by demonstrating the social impact of their products on a clean energy future, i.e. lithium and copper as vital components of electric cars.” 
- The Mine 2019 report from PwC states, “more investment is needed to ensure the right mix of skills are available for a sustainable future. Ongoing investment in tertiary education by the Top 40 companies is essential. Mining also needs to form deep alliances with complementary industries such as technology and logistics to supply the necessary skills.” 
It’s not all doom (boom) and gloom
Yes, we currently have a skills shortage, but on a positive note, this means that conditions are continuing to improve for the WA mining and resources sector. Businesses are starting to see an increase in revenue, capital expenditure is up and investor confidence has returned. 
As a nation we need to educate students on the importance and history of the Australian mining and resources sector, encourage more school graduates to study mining related courses, and make jobs more enticing. We need to act now to avoid a series of scenarios where mining projects are put on hold due to there being no qualified workers.
If this article has sparking any questions, please contact your Ledge Finance Executive direct, or contact our offices here.
This article has been prepared by Ledge Finance Ltd solely as a discussion piece. The content has been sourced and referenced from material in the public domain. It must not be relied upon as financial product advice and or market research/ investment advice.
- Resources and Energy Quarterly report June 2019, released by the Australian Government, Department of Industry, Innovation and Science
- The West, Skills Crunch Fears Rising.
- Hays Recruiting, Resources and Mining: Hotspot of Skills in Demand
- Australian Mining, Wage Pressure ‘Inevitable’ as Skills Shortages Worsen
- PwC: Mine 2019 – Resourcing the Future