Money Mining industry ramps up efforts to recruit school leavers amid skills shortage

06:15  10 july  2018
06:15  10 july  2018 Source:

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INDUSTRY lobby warns of serious skills shortages by the end of the decade unless more school leavers take up engineering, geology degrees. The Minerals Council of Australia says the mining industry is facing a new skills shortage .

a man in a yellow shirt© Provided by ABC Business A school holiday program is aiming to inspire a new generation of mining experts amid a skills shortage in the industry.

Students from across Queensland made the trip to Mount Isa to work with specialist staff, like engineers and geologists, from the city's long-established mine.

Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy project manager Daniel Rea said the program was about exposing potential specialists to an industry they may not know about.

"We look for their aptitude around those maths and science subjects, knowing that they're going to need a bit of technical expertise," Mr Rea said.

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It predicts demand for skills will rocket and urges the government to launch grants for apprenticeships and reform the education system to ensure leavers ’ skills match needs of businesses. The EEF claims that ministers are not matching industry ’s efforts to tackle a skills crunch, such as in-house

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"A recent study has shown that a lack of knowledge is the reason why students aren't choosing to go into these mining specialties — not so much that they don't want to."

a man in a yellow shirt© Provided by ABC Business This skills shortage has been flagged as a major challenge for the mining industry, with the Minerals Council of Australia predicting only 50 engineering graduates — nation-wide — in four years' time.

Brisbane-based secondary school student Maggie May, who took part in the holiday program, said she was not sure if she would target the mining industry.

"I've always liked studying science at school so my teacher really encouraged me to apply," she said.

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The ex-services recruits can be trained in 12 months to two years, whereas traditional apprenticeships for school - leavers can take three years or more. Budget constraints in the public sector and skills shortages in civil engineering held up infrastructure schemes in December.

There will be a range of entry options to allow people already working in construction or trades, school leavers and Canberra Institute of University of Canberra College student Katarina Pavlovic plans to sign up to the course. She said: “I’ve worked in the construction industry and I really like it.

"I wasn't really looking at mining, I was just looking at engineering in general but I think it's a good experience to try out different areas of engineering."

Competitive employment market

The copper and zinc markets had reached record highs in recent years and several mines in north-west Queensland had been brought into production.

Glencore's chief operating officer for North Queensland copper assets Matt O'Neill said the increased demand for mining staff was a positive for the community, but it did make recruitment tough.

"It's almost 100 per cent employment in the mining industry again so if we're looking for a geo-mechanic or a mining engineer, it's highly unlikely that they're sitting here unemployed," Mr O'Neill said.

"We're not just competing with mining companies, we're competing with technology companies and a lot of other people.

"I don't see it changing in the short term but it will be a challenge for us for the remaining couple of years."

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The Immediate Skill Shortage List (ISSL) includes occupations where skilled workers are immediately required in New Zealand and indicates that there are no New Zealand citizens or residents available to take up the position.

Sharpen up your soft skills . Paid for by. As well as commercial awareness – knowledge of the business or industry you are applying to join of Graduate Recruiters , bringing together employers, educators and suppliers to recruit and develop school - leaver , apprenticeship and graduate talent.

Local students watched for trades

Alongside the engineering camp was a trades camp for senior students from Mount Isa and Cloncurry.

The students split up into groups and transformed broken push bikes from the local police station into motorbikes, under the watchful eyes of Glencore's tradespeople.

While the bikes were well decorated and kicked up plenty of dust on the Mount Isa oval, they were judged on the process the teams went through.

QMEA project officer Kym Frost said while upgrading pushbikes was not a mining job, it was an engaging way to test the students' skills.

"It's just a matter them using the mechanical skills plus the expertise from the mentors to be able to complete the project by the end of the week," Mr Frost said.

"It's really about workmanship and their attention to detail — and the opportunity these guys have got to work with the mentors for a week."

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