Is another mining skills shortage on the way?

A skills shortage is emerging in the Australian mining industry, according to recruitment company, Hays.

In its latest quarterly update, Hays reported that renewed optimism in the Australian mining market and improved sales prices were helping increase vacancy activity.

However, Hays added that certain skills shortages are emerging again, “since mass redundancies and the uncertainty of previous years drove much of the blue collar workforce into alternative industries closer to home, where many were satisfied to trade reduced wages for improved lifestyles.”

This situation is particularly evident in locations such as North Queensland, according to Hays, where workers were expected to work on drive-in, drive-out (DIDO) rosters.

“It may be challenging to entice them back,” Hays reported.

“As a result, some employers are now considering candidates with no mining experience. This is expected to become more prevalent in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.

“Workers who are new to the sector bring different ideas from other industries and should dilute what remains of the elevated earning expectations of those that only ever knew the boom times.

“Some Queensland employers will also reconsider the use of FIFO candidates to increase their options.”

In the September quarter, Hays expects to see an increase in temporary and contract roles as employers supplement new mining industry entrants with flexible and experienced contractors.

Longer-term, as the available candidate pool drains, Hays expects to see more of these workers converted into permanent headcount.

Diversity also continues to be a key focus area for mining companies, according to Hays.

“Most major miners are focused on diversifying their workforce to include a greater proportion of female and Indigenous employees, which will improve their social license and widen their candidate pool,” Hays reported.

“In another trend, improved technology around automation and a continual push towards greater mine efficiency and maximising production will increase engineering roles and eventually reduce repetitive high-risk tasks.”

Mining roles in demand at Hays
Western Australia: geologists
Queensland: dragline diesel fitters, and drill and blast
Northern Territory: mechanical, electrical and heavy diesel fitters
South Australia: rubber liners, belt splicers
New South Wales: boilermakers
Victoria: boilermakers, mechanical fitters.