Skills shortage threatens $427b mining projects

Resource sector

By Kate Southam

A leading employer group has called for the setting up of “recruitment hubs” where workers can be trained for fly in fly out roles to save $427 billion worth of mining projects now at risk due to a shortage of skilled labour.

Australian Mines and Metals Association director Minna Knight has told the Mining and Gas Jobs Expo that 40,000 construction workers alone were needed by the resources sector to satisfy demand in the second half of 2011.

The Expo was organised by the Queensland Government and staged on the Gold Coast where unemployment is relatively to attract people willing to retrain for the resources sector and thus create a recruitment hub of fly in fly out workers.

“The example set by the Queensland Government
should be followed right across the country. Before the day is out we will see more than 3500 prospective resource workers from the Gold Coast alone flow through this Mining and Gas Jobs Expo, all seeking ways to connect with the mining boom,” Ms Knight told the audience.

Ms Knight said research by labour market forecaster Pitcrew Consultants revealed demand for about 40,000 workers alone in the second half of 2011 and that a ‘hypothetical’ call for workers in a myriad of other mining and resources roles would soon translate into a scramble for labour to finish large-scale projects.

She told the expo that without initiatives to develop workers to meet an “unprecedented demand” for workers, $427 billion worth of projects would “struggle to survive” the labour shortages.                                                     

“As it stands there are around $236 billion of resource projects underway across Australia and a further $191 billion awaiting the final stages of approval. Pitcrew’s data supports what the industry has been saying for many months – that unless we urgently address the worsening labour demand these projects will not come to fruition.

“The data suggests that in Queensland and Western Australia alone, each state’s best labour sourcing efforts will only fill the requirements of around half the currently planned resource projects.”

Ms Knight said now that the Gold Coast had been identified as a “recruitment hub” other areas of Australia had to follow suit.

“Once the areas that will supply the workers are identified, there needs to be greater coordination between those providing the skills training and tertiary education and organisation’s that can place these newly-skilled workers straight into mining jobs,” she said.

“Policy and taxation mechanisms should be implemented from all tiers of government that will foster and encourage training and workforce development in every level of resource employment.

“With 60,000 job vacancies predicted by 2013, government policymakers can no longer take the economic gains arising from Australia’s resources projects for granted. Without immediate intervention, some of these projects will simply run out of workers.”

An AMMA spokesperson told that the expo attracted more than 6,000 visitors., October 19, 2011.

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