QLD and WA collaborate to solve mining skills shortage

As the skills shortage in the resource industry continues to worsen, peak industry groups in Western Australia and Queensland have joined with a national industry skills council to address the issue.

The Chamber of Minerals and Energy Western Australia (CME), Queensland Resources Council (QRC) and SkillsDMC have joined forces to create strategies to sources the huge number of workers needed over the next five to 10 years.

In Western Australia alone, 33 000 workers will be needed in the next year, and 30 000 will be required in the next six years at the Bowen Basin.

As part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) agreed to by the industry groups, an objective of the three year agreement will be the development of skills initiatives to be implemented.

Projects under the MoU will include:

  • Defining and implementing a national skills policy for the mining sector
  • Providing timely workforce planning data to support skills advocacy functions with state and federal governments
  • Knowledge transfer for local and state operational outcomes
  • Brokering funds to support commonly agreed objectives
  • Enhanced consultation and consistency on skills-related submissions
  • Establishing lead agencies for projects and issues to maximise the strengths and opportunities provided by the MoU partners

QME chief executive Reg Howard-Smith said Queensland and Western Australia are up against very similar problems in their skills shortage.

‘Our ability to source skilled labour will prove vital in the delivery of projects on time and on budget,’ he said.

‘Our ability to source skilled labour will prove vital in the delivery of projects on time and on budget,’ Mr Howard-Smith said.

‘Where there is mutual benefit, this new, non-binding collaboration, allows the partners to work towards securing policy and initiatives that will underpin national prosperity for decades to come.’

QRC chief executive Michael Roche has echoed Howard-Smith’s comments and says the partnership will make it possible to tackle the problems in the mining sectors in both states.

“The MoU comes at a crucial moment in time to work towards ensuring the development and long-term sustainability of the resources sector in Queensland and Australia,” Roche said

“In the wake of a record $31 billion of new investment recently committed in Queensland alone by LNG developers, it is imperative we band together in order to meet the sector’s increasing workforce needs to support this unprecedented growth.

“No single state can resolve the skills issues we face on its own.’

The chief executive of SkillsDMC, Steve McDonald said planning for the future is the key to solving the issues.

“The enterprises with which we work understand the importance of continual upskilling and training and understand the need to plan for the prosperity of the industry, to ensure that even more critical skills gaps are avoided in the future.

“Industry must position itself to minimise the impact of a retiring workforce, and one that is not currently upskilled to levels that are crucial to industry productivity.

“It is the goal of this collaborative partnership to find solutions to these issues.’

Following the announcement of the federal budget by Treasurer Wayne Swan last week, employers in the resource in industry are urging the Federal Government to ignore demands from political groups and unions opposed to increasing the level of skilled migration.

The Government’s announcement on Enterprise Migration Agreements (EMA’s) was welcomed by resource industry employer AMMA.

The budget will see an increase in workers as it lifts the level of skilled labour imports and gives companies incentives through a $558 million employment fund.

The National Workforce Development Fund, launched today, is designed to create 130,000 new training places over the next four years.

A new enterprise migration agreement for large mining projects in return for a financial contribution to train Australians will be implemented, with the aim of allowing 16,000 skilled immigrants to enter the country to work in some key regions where there is a labour shortage.

Image: BHP Billiton

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