Australia's Mining Sector Faces Acute Workforce Shortage

October 29, 2013

Over the next decade and half, South Australia’s mining sector is expected to create another 35,000 jobs; but by present estimates, in the next five year, the industry is going to face an acute shortage of skilled workers. Research published by the Resources and Engineering Skills Alliance (RESA) says the projected jobs creation in the industry is over and above the approximate 15,000 jobs already existing in the sector.

Need plan to meet future demand

With 40 resource-based projects in the pipeline, Phil de Courcey, chief executive of RESA, feels that there is a need for the industry, government and educational institutions to draw-up plans to meet future demand.

"While there is a challenge associated with getting people skilled to take up the roles, there is also an opportunity for South Australia with social and economic benefits," said Mr de Courcey, quoted by The Australian.

Although the growth of the South Australian mining industry will not be as big as the resource-based firms of Western Australia, RESA predicts the demand for skilled workers will match the potential of mining industry in Queensland.

State attracting global investments

Foreseeing this potential the state Government of South Australia established the Mining Industry Participation Office (MIPO) with the objective to promote and encourage resource-based industries in state.

South Australia has been making a proactive effort to encourage global investments in its resource-based sector. Promoting itself as the 'El Dorado of the future', the state has succeeded in eliciting interest among Indian and other global mining companies.

With a rapidly growing economy, countries like India and China have an insatiable demand for mineral resources. These are factors that make untapped mineral resources in Australia an attractive destination of mining firms from countries like India and China.

Global firms face similar workforce shortage

Investing companies are however facing a major challenge finding skilled workforce in the country. It is to meet this shortage that several mining firms, like India’s Adani group, last year, held negotiations with the Australian government to change the individual 457 visas with bulk temporary migration agreements, to enable them to bring overseas labour to work in the country. 

Research findings

RESA believes the growth of mining-based employment will be “across the three spheres of supply chain companies, developing mines and operational mines." Researchers forecast that an acute shortage of workforce will be experienced around 2018, in some spheres.

According to the study the key demand forecast is for “crushers and dragline operators, exploration drillers, laboratory assistants, underground and open-cut miners, and mobile plant and process plant operators.”

The RESA study seeks to provide a broad understanding of the looming shortage of workers, to enable the implementation of appropriate measures to meet the emerging demand.

"There have been several initiatives taken both at vocational training and university level. Some of the responses are starting and this report says we need to continue to think about the future and focus on the opportunities," says Mr de Courcey.


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