Mining sparks job spike
Workers do not need mine skills to secure employment through the mining sector, CareerOne Editor Cara Jenkin reveals.
EVERY South Australian has the opportunity to be involved in employment as the state’s resources industry sparks into action. Mining professionals are predicted to only make up a slice of the required workforce, with up to three-quarters of all workers expected to be trained in other careers in support and service industries.
Up to 25,000 workers in total are estimated to be needed for an expanded Olympic Dam mine alone if the project is approved for the state’s Far North. Primary Industries and Resources SA data shows the number of major active mines in South Australia has tripled in the past seven years from four to 13 and 31 more projects are under investigation, which would require thousands more workers. Mining professionals are in high demand, with a Federal Employment Department report finding mining engineers are expected to have the strongest employment growth of any occupation at 12.2 per cent each year for the next five years. But for every mining job created, another worker is required for service and support industries.
These include education, community services, health care, hospitality and retail. Trade workers, in particular, are in high demand for more direct roles to mining to repair mechanical equipment and help in construction of projects.
South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy chief executive Jason Kuchel says anyone providing a regular service for people’s use on a regular basis will be required.
‘‘I think there’s going to be more and more jobs available for professionals and even non-professionals across a whole range of service provision, everything from food through to doctors and nurses,’’ he says.
‘‘In Western Australia, they are using any trade qualified people they can get hold of in the resources sector there.’’
Workers from teachers, police officers, chefs, nurses and shop assistants to welders, diesel mechanics and electricians will be highly sought after. A breakdown of the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ last census figures reveal about 72 per cent of mining workers are in occupations which are not industryspecific, such as automotive tradespeople, arts, health and welfare.
Mining companies may not be the major employers of all the required staff, as Mr Kuchel says contractors will offer many opportunities. ‘‘Often the case is for people to actually consider the types of companies who are providing these services to mining companies. It’s often not the people who are doing the mining themselves who are hiring people, it’s the service providers,’’ he says.
Mr Kuchel says most opportunities will be created in rural areas because that is where most mines are located.
‘‘Roxby Downs as a township will increase significantly in size to house the additional workforce (for Olympic Dam),’’ he says.
But many towns will experience considerable growth, especially across Eyre Peninsula and in the Far North, where extensive exploration is underway, and to a smaller extent, Yorke Peninsula and Adelaide Hills.
Trade workers also will be needed to build associated infrastructure from electricity supply lines and power stations to water pipelines and processing plants for the mines.
Jobs in the mining industry already are top of the mind for many trade students at St Patrick’s Technical College at Elizabeth West, including Year 11 metal and engineering students Alec McNicholl and Michael Cash. Since 2007 the school has offered specialist training for many trade occupations through schoolbased apprenticeships to Year 11 and 12 students, with many going on to full-time apprenticeships.
St Patrick’s Technical College Year 11 students Alec McNicholl, left, and Michael Cash.