Jobs growth highlights skills gap
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.