Often blamed for not providing enough training opportunities for those who want to enter the sector, a new report claims the mining industry spent more than $1.15 billion on training over the last two years.
Released by the Minerals Council of Australia, together with the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), the report also suggests there are currently more than 11,000 apprentices and trainees in the mining and resources industry in Australia.
The study found that the minerals sector spent just over $1.1 billion on training during the financial year ending 30 June 2012, equivalent to almost 5.5% of total payroll.
Almost 98% of this training expenditure is industry-funded, with only 2% coming from government subsidies.
The approach used in this study was to undertake a survey of on-site training activity conducted by mining companies and associated contractors. Contractors included full service all-in contract miners, as well as on-site contractors.
The survey captured training activity in the areas of apprentices and traineeships, nationally recognised training and study (including skill sets), structured training (including safety), and other skill development activities.
Around 40% of all mining operators were captured in the survey, two-thirds of iron ore operators and around 50% of all coal and gold operators.
Oil and gas operators were excluded, as were small companies whose activities were primarily involved in exploration.
The MCA said the study was commissioned to ‘de-bunk’ the myth that there are limited opportunities for new workers to join the Infrastructure and Resources industry.
“In the past, it has been incorrectly claimed that the mining sector does not train its own workers, instead taking workers from other industries. The report lays these false claims to rest and shows for the first time the extent to which enterprises are investing in the skilling of their current and future workforces,” said Steve McDonald, CEO SkillsDMC.
“We have always been aware of industry’s significant contribution but only now do we have the data to validate the commitment of the Industry to workforce development.”
More than 75 per cent of mining operators offer at least one form of nationally recognised training to their employees and about 80 per cent of all employees in the industry participated in structured training in 2011/12.
Currently, apprentices and trainees make up around 5 per cent of the total mining workforce in Australia.
Of this number, around 13 per cent of apprentices and trainees are indigenous Australians and 15 per cent are women.
“The Resources and Infrastructure Industry is the driving force behind Australia’s economic success," McDonald said.
"With this amount of private investment in the Australian national training system, the industry warrants a leading role in policy decisions and to have more of a say in defining quality skilling outcomes."