Thousands of resource workers needed in WA

The Chamber of Minerals and Energy (CME) of Western Australia has flagged demand for an additional 8000 skilled workers over the next 12 to 18 months.

Based on workforce modelling by the CME, there will be a continuation of COVID-19 related restrictions including interstate travel until the end of the year.

This foreshadows a considerable increase in competition for skills such as traditional trades and experienced technicians, front line supervisors, and safety and medical support services.

CME chief executive Paul Everingham said there was already a high demand for maintainers such as heavy diesel fitters, and professional engineers, geologists, metallurgists and technology specialists.

He also pointed to the commitment of the Western Australian resources sector to employ locally, where possible.

“In response to COVID-19, companies moved early and decisively to relocate thousands of their employees and contractors in critical roles to Western Australia, with companies offering incentive packages to make the move permanent,” Everingham said.

“The skills migration to the west brought on by COVID-19 has been nothing short of phenomenal. The vast majority of Western Australia’s interstate FIFO workforce of around 5000 have made the move west, some individually, others with their families at very short notice prior to the state border closure in April.

“Many of our members have also been recruiting for hundreds of skilled roles from within Western Australia over the past few months. These roles are a mixture of regional and Perth based, including both residential and fly-in, fly-out.”

Rio Tinto has hired more than 500 employees and contractors locally and more than 100 nurses to staff its screening facilities at Perth Airport, Everingham added.

BHP has also filled hundreds of new positions with local hires for roles such as machinery and production operators, truck and ancillary equipment drivers, excavator operators, boilermakers, electricians, trade assistants, cleaner and warehousing.

“We also acknowledge that making the decision to relocate across the Nullarbor is a major life-changing decision, and in many instances workers haven’t been able to get home yet to sit around their kitchen table with their family and friends to make such a life-changing decision,” Everingham said.

He estimated that only about 1 to 2 per cent of the workforce still need to be sourced from outside of Western Australia under the COVID-19 operating environment, particularly for roles that are safety-critical and highly technical.

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