Walk- up start at $ 100,000

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Rear View -

START­ING salaries com­pa­ra­ble with our medicine men, a bet­ter lifestyle and a fresh start in a beau­ti­ful state with sandy beaches, are among rea­sons to con­sider a grad­u­ate ca­reer in en­gi­neer­ing and re­sources in Wester Aus­tralia.

WA de­part­ment of pri­mary in­dus­try and re­sources spokesman, Bill Ti­nap­ple, says grad­u­ates are be­ing paid up to $ 100,000 straight out of univer­sity’’.

The state’s min­ing in­dus­try is boom­ing, with around $ 50 bil­lion worth of projects in op­er­a­tion or in plan­ning.

Growth in WA is be­ing driven largely by the iron, steel, oil and gas sec­tors. BHP Bil­li­ton and Rio Tinto, among oth­ers, are un­der­tak­ing rapid ex­pan­sion of their iron ore op­er­a­tions. Growth in LNG projects, and strong pro­duc­tiv­ity among alu­mina, gold and nickel pro­duc­ers is also help­ing to boost the mar­ket.

It’s a good ca­reer,’’ says Mr Ti­nap­ple. En­ergy, re­sources and com­modi­ties are go­ing to play a much more im­por­tant role in my view over the next half cen­tury than they have.

We have had ups and downs over the past cen­tury, with over sup­ply and un­der­sup­ply, but I think it’s mov­ing into short­age time.

So peo­ple who choose to make it a ca­reer will be play­ing a very im­por­tant role in the scheme of things and pre­serv­ing Aus­tralia’s geopo­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in the world and they will be mak­ing a good liv­ing out of it at the same time. Who could ask for more?’’

In­deed. Mr Ti­nap­ple urges young peo­ple to con­sider a grad­u­ate ca­reer in the en­gi­neer­ing field, but he says de­mand for ex­per­tise had spilled over into other ar­eas.

Our econ­omy is largely re­source- based and there is a huge boom in min­ing for oil and gas and there is enough there to make a long- term ca­reer for young peo­ple and the salaries are very com­pet­i­tive now for peo­ple with re­source- based qual­i­fi­ca­tions,’’ he says.

Pe­tro­leum en­gi­neers, for ex­am­ple, are start­ing out at salaries that are com­pet­i­tive with doc­tors. Maybe more than doc­tors at this stage.

A new grad­u­ate pe­tro­leum en­gi­neers are start­ing out at $ 80,000 to $ 100,000 a year.’’

Mr Ti­nap­pls says a fresh start in the West is a great way to get a leg up in the early stage of your ca­reer: What we are find­ing now is a lot of young peo­ple are go­ing off to the oil and gas and min­ing sites and they are get­ting a head start on life.

They are get­ting an ini­tial stake to set them­selves up.’’

Mr Ti­nap­ple says the key pro­fes­sion­als needed are pri­mar­ily en­gi­neers and ge­ol­o­gists: But it’s a broad field. The de­mand is spilling over into a whole lot of ar­eas. We need en­vi­ron­men­tal sci­en­tists, lawyers, economists, ac­coun­tants: there is de­mand right across the board.’’

And the WA Gov­ern­ment has launched a cam­paign to en­cour­age work­ers across the na­tion to move west.

It tar­gets all ages, from young skilled peo­ple with ad­ven­tur­ous spir­its to fam­i­lies look­ing for a bet­ter fu­ture and those who want a sea change.

WA is also reach­ing over­seas to fuel its need for work­ers.

WA Small Busi­ness Min­is­ter, Mar­garet Quirk, went to In­dia on a re­cruit­ment drive. We see In­dia as a key mar­ket to meet the skills short­age,’’ a spokesman for Ms Quirk says.

‘‘ We’re try­ing to re­cruit trained en­gi­neers, ac­coun­tants, skilled con­struc­tion and in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy work­ers and even qual­i­fied trades peo­ple like plumbers and elec­tri­cians, and we’re al­ways look­ing for nurses and teach­ers.

‘‘ It’s re­ally across the board - we just can’t find enough skilled work­ers.’’

Bill Beatty, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of in­dus­try re­cruit­ment spe­cial­ists Swan Con­tract Per­son­nel, wor­ries that the min­ing in­dus­try is fac­ing its big­gest short­age of grad­u­ates ever.

‘‘ Just about any­body whose got an arm and a leg at the mo­ment can get a job,’’ he says.

De­mand from China is a ma­jor driver of new projects in Aus­tralia. ‘‘ It is just as­tro­nom­i­cal and we’re bust­ing our guts to meet those de­mands, hence the pres­sure on our in­dus­try to find suit­ably qual­i­fied per­son­nel and op­por­tu­ni­ties to train young pro­fes­sion­als and give them the op­por­tu­nity to en­ter this in­dus­try,’’ Mr Beatty says.

Swan cur­rently has 20,000 CVs on its data­base. The com­pany helps to place a wide range of pro­fes­sion­als within the en­ergy and re­sources sec­tors.

For grad­u­ates, ex­ist­ing pro­fes­sion­als and peo­ple con­tem­plat­ing a change, the en­ergy and re­sources sec­tor is pro­vid­ing unique and valu­able op­por­tu­ni­ties to work along­side some of Aus­tralia’s and the world’s top pro­fes­sion­als on some of the most in­ter­est­ing projects.

Ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­ni­ties ex­ist in this grow­ing in­dus­try as new and ex­cit­ing projects come on line,’’ Mr Beatty says.

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