Interest in mining careers hits alarming low point

There has been an alarming drop in students enrolling in mining engineering at some of Australia’s top universities, with only eight graduating as mining engineers from the University of Western Australia in 2018. The University of NSW also received the lowest enrolment level in mining engineering in 40 years, accepting just eight enrolments in 2017.

Youth research agency YouthInsight revealed that low consideration of a career in mining was driven by a lack of knowledge, with 45 per cent of respondents saying, “It’s not an industry I’ve ever thought about” and 40 per cent saying, “I don’t know anything about mining.”

Evolution Mining executive chairman Jake Klein said that the industry’s image does not restrict the attraction of talent either.

“Few people would recognise that a job in mining is safer than one in agriculture, forestry, construction, fishing, transport or manufacturing,” Klein said.

“We desperately need to make mining an attractive career option for young people again.”

The YouthInsight survey found that students’ interest in a mining career is largely motivated by two things: high incomes, and the number of jobs and opportunities on offer.

Greg Evans, Minerals Council Australia executive director – coal, said, “Our high skill, high-wage workforce is younger, better paid, better trained and has a much higher share of apprentices than other sectors, with average full-time weekly pay of $2,610, which is 67 per cent higher than the all-industries average.”

Ric Gros, METS Ignited chief executive, also pointed out, “The jobs are there — areas of the METS sector such as information and communication technologies and professional and technical services saw 164 per cent job growth between 2005 and 2015.”

Australia’s mining, equipment, technology and services (METS) sector will need many young people to fill future roles, such as drone pilots, environmental and social scientists and engineers.

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