Jobs growth high­lights skills gap

The Australian Mining Review - - NEWS - REUBEN ADAMS

JAN­UARY SEEK data has re­vealed a 54 per cent jump in min­ing, re­sources and en­ergy jobs as min­ers strug­gle with a ‘tal­ent short­age’ due to an emerg­ing skills gap, slug­gish wages growth, and the rise of the ‘gig econ­omy’.

SEEK ANZ man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Ken­dra Banks said the em­ploy­ment web­site was see­ing strong na­tional de­mand for STEM skills – science, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and math­e­mat­ics – which re­flected a global tal­ent short­age.

“This ’tal­ent short­age’ has been iden­ti­fied by Aus­tralian CEOs as one of their top business risk ar­eas, but it also cre­ates huge com­pet­i­tive job op­por­tu­ni­ties for Aus­tralians with en­gi­neer­ing and IT skills,” Ms Banks said.

In a sur­vey of Min­eral Coun­cil of Aus­tralia (MCA) mem­ber com­pa­nies, 70 per cent of re­spon­dents cited Re­search and De­vel­op­ment and adop­tion of new tech­nolo­gies as im­por­tant or very im­por­tant to achiev­ing fu­ture im­prove­ments in pro­duc­tiv­ity.

But op­por­tu­ni­ties for Aus­tralia’s min­ing in­dus­try would only be fully re­alised by in­spir­ing the next gen­er­a­tion to pur­sue STEM dis­ci­plines, MCA Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing di­rec­tor Gavin Lind said.

“Aus­tralia’s world-class min­ing sec­tor needs more highly-skilled STEM pro­fes­sion­als – yet stu­dent par­tic­i­pa­tion and out­comes in STEM sub­jects have de­clined markedly over the last decade,” Mr Lind said.

In a Fe­bru­ary sub­mis­sion to a Se­nate in­quiry into the fu­ture of the Aus­tralian work­place, MCA also warned that univer­sity en­rol­ments in min­ing-fo­cused pro­grams had fallen to the low­est lev­els since 2000.

“The num­ber of stu­dents com­menc­ing min­ing pro­grams across Aus­tralia in 2017 show en­rol­ments con­tinue a dras­tic down­ward trend to lev­els be­low those last seen in 2000,” the sub­mis­sion stated.

But the min­ing sec­tor is grap­pling with on­go­ing skills short­ages across a range of roles.

Since the min­ing boom peaked in 2012 the sec­tor has shed more than 50,000 jobs; many of th­ese work­ers have moved on to dif­fer­ent in­dus­tries.

Now, the abol­ish­ment of the 457 visa, in­creas­ingly ca­su­alised work­forces, and slug­gish wages growth in min­ing mean th­ese roles are less at­trac­tive and harder to fill.

In Fe­bru­ary, out­go­ing Aus­drill founder and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Ron Say­ers told The

Kal­go­or­lie Miner that skills short­ages were a mas­sive chal­lenge for the com­pany, as lo­cal drillers who left the in­dus­try dur­ing the lat­est down­turn have not re­turned.

“When the boom was on, we had a lot of peo­ple, and when the boom came off, peo­ple were made re­dun­dant and went into other fields of work,” Mr Say­ers said.

“A lot of them haven’t wanted to go back.”

Job ad growth across Aus­tralian in­dus­tries on SEEK, Novem­ber 2017 to Jan­uary 2018, com­pared to the same pe­riod 12 months ago.

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