Young Australians in the dark about mining careers: survey

Australian mining needs to be promoted as an attractive career.

More than half of young Australians know nothing about a career in mining, according to research from youth agency, YouthInsight.

The agency, which represents 1061 senior high school students and first-year university students aged between 15 and 20, found that knowledge of mining careers was extremely low, with 59 per cent of those involved in the research knowing nothing.

Additionally, the research revealed that just 30 per cent of students were interested in a career in mining or the mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sectors.

Despite mining and METS providing 1.1 million Australian jobs, METS Ignited chief executive officer Ric Gros said it was clear that much more must be done to make young people aware of the opportunities and rewards.

“With the modern mining workforce undergoing huge transition, it’s time for the industry to work smarter to make young people aware of the exciting and rewarding careers on offer in Australia and around the globe,” Gros said.

“Australia’s world-class METS sector will need many highly-skilled young people to fill the jobs of tomorrow including drone pilots, environmental and social scientists and engineers.

“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.”

The research found that mining’s high incomes generated the most interest (48 per cent) from students. The number of jobs and opportunities in mining was also attractive to some students (20 per cent).

Low consideration of a mining career was driven by a lack of knowledge, according to YouthInsight, with respondents saying, “It’s not an industry I’ve ever thought about” (45 per cent), and, “I don’t know anything about mining” (40 per cent).

Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) Minerals Tertiary Education Council executive director Gavin Lind said the modern mining sector was being changed by innovative technologies like automation, drones, robotics and artificial intelligence.

“This survey helps us understand the career preferences for our future workforce and address some of the misconceptions about a career in Australia’s world-leading minerals industry,” Lind said.

“Our industry has a great story to tell – 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 $2610, 67 per cent higher than the all-industries average.

“We need to tell our story better to make young people and their parents aware of the tremendous opportunities on offer, including world-leading innovation.”

AusIMM CEO Stephen Durkin added the future of the resources sector relied on students continuing to be attracted to the immense opportunities for professionals in the minerals industry.

“As the employment needs of the sector change with ground-breaking innovation, selling the diversity of careers and pathways available is a key priority of the AusIMM. From finance students to those studying software engineering, this study will help inform and position the mining industry as a desirable career option,” Durkin said.