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Investment needed to fill mining skills shortage: MCA

Fortescue

Australia’s mining workforce has grown by more than 20,000 people in the past year and supported 5000 new apprentices as the nation’s unemployment rate continues to fall, according to the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA).

However, MCA chief executive officer Tania Constable is urging the Federal Government to provide job seekers and employers with certainty, and commit to permanently funding the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements program to ease skills shortages in the sector.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 4.0 per cent in February 2022, the lowest unemployment rate since August 2008, according to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

ABS head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis said with employment increasing by 77,000 people and unemployment falling by 19,000, the unemployment rate fell by 0.2 percentage points, to 4.0 per cent.

“This is the lowest unemployment rate since August 2008 and only the third time in the history of the monthly survey when unemployment was as low as 4.0 per cent (February 2008, August 2008, February 2022),” he said.

“Lower unemployment rates occurred in the series before November 1974, when the survey was quarterly.”

Constable said Australia’s historically low unemployment rate highlights the importance of further investment in skills initiatives in the upcoming Budget.

“The nation’s strong economic recovery from COVID-19 has driven substantial growth in employment,” she said.

“Australian mining alone has added more than 20,000 people to its workforce in the past 12 months and supported 5000 new apprentices.

“Programs such as the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements program have been successful in increasing apprenticeship numbers.”

However, Constable said these programs need additional funding to continue.

“The MCA is calling on the government to provide job seekers and employers with certainty and commit to permanently fund the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements program that will support small and medium sized businesses across the mining supply chain to employ new apprentices,” she said.

“Further, the MCA calls on the government to expand the work of the National Careers Institute on new interactive career pathways maps to include mining and support the industry skills organisations to fast-track apprenticeships.

“To meet acute skills shortages, the MCA urges the Australian government to reform skilled migration by simplifying skilled migration lists and reducing duplication.

“Let’s keep the COVID-19 economic recovery going by increasing investment in skills to create more and better jobs for Australians.”

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