Stemming the flow – The realities of a mining job

A new course has been designed to highlight the realties of mining.

 It seems as though every man and his dog is trying to get a job in the mining industry.

Other Australian industries have been haemorrhaging workers, with manufacturing losing employees hand over fist, while the mining industry is crying out about severe skills shortages – they are looking at a short fall of 10 000 workers in Western Australia’s Goldfields Esperance area this year alone.

There is predicted to be a shortfall of 30 000 workers industry wide over the next five years.

The massive expansion of existing mining and infrastructure projects has played a major part in this tightening of the skills market and created an opening for people outside of mining to step in.

Steve Biazzaca, from contract mining firm Delta SBD, explained "that the rapid expansion of existing projects and all the upcoming work has stretched the industry talent thin as there are just not enough skilled people to do the work".

While many skilled workers are coming from mining industries overseas to step in and fill this shortfall, with companies such as Mastermyne looking to source hundreds of experienced Polish underground coal miners for Queensland operations, and Xstrata bringing Spanish mining professionals into Mount Isa, there are still plenty of spaces for Australian workers.

So if the mining industry is where to be employment wise, why is there such a high attrition rate between for workers in their first year?

According to the Kinetic Group’s chief Derek Hunter "of the estimated 9,500 people leaving organisations within the sector each year 18.4% had commenced their employment in the last 12 months".

Hunter explained that a large part of this has to do with the "disconnect of expectations of a job in mining, and hard reality".

Attempting to get a job in the mining industry often requires a serious level of investment, both personal and financial, often without a guarantee of employment.

"People have such high expectations, of earning six figure salaries, of easy work, but they don’t understand the realities that come with a job in mining, the stress, and how a fly in fly out lifestyle affects them and their family.

"The massive drop out we are seeing in the first 12 months is about their expectations, and the company’s, not being met – it’s really about job fit and working conditions."

This drop out rate affects mining companies which have made an investment in the workers, particularly in cases where it has provided training prior to employment.

In an attempt to battle this attrition rate, the Kinetic Group (formerly known as the MISC) has developed a course – Drill Down – which attempts to bridge this gap between expectation and reality, and to provide a better understanding of life in the mining industry.

"While there are a lot of courses and training programs aimed at helping people get a job in the industry, there aren’t too many that may actually persuade them not to get a job in the industry," Hunter told Australian Mining.

According to Hunter, since the course has been running it has had a drop out rate of approximately 20 per cent, roughly in line with the first year attrition rate for new miners.

"We believe that this course will go some way to informing potential employees of the realities of life on a mine site and also help the industry reduce the overall attrition rate," he explained.

Held over one day, it covers ‘expectations and reality’; ‘working life and daily routine’; ‘family, relationships, and lifestyle’; and ‘managing financial temptation’.

Once completed, participants work with the course facilitator to create a portfolio for mining job applications.

Kinetic Group general manager – research and development, Deb Jones, said their research team has spent months collating information necessary for job seekers.

"The information presented in this course has been specifically crafted with job seekers in mind. If you’ve never had a job in the mines and you are keen to take advantage of the resources boom, this course will help answer your questions before you move forward," she said.

Hunter added that the aim is to get people asking questions such as ‘how will this job affect my family and lifestyle’.

It also looks at life in a mining camp, and how workers spend time after their shifts, dealing with the boredom factor – such as having to drive a haul truck along the same road again and again for hours while still remaining focused and vigilant, and the different kind of people you would find on site

However, Hunter did state that the course does not guarantee a job, but aims to help the industry in finding the best candidates for further training and potential jobs.

He went on to say this "is not a course designed to dissuade anyone from entering the mining industry, but to ensure they are committed to the industry and they can reap the benefits it provides".


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