Bid for young to dig mining
Summary: WA’s first female underground mine manager wants to take mining into schools across Perth and regional WA to shake its “bad reputation” and rebuild the number of students in mining education.....
Sabina Shugg, founder of Wo- men in Mining and Resources WA, and director of the CRC Ore Mining Innovation Hub in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, has taken the lead in new group Our Mining Future, which is looking to attract more young people to mining education.
It comes with the industry staring down the barrel of a looming skills shortage which threatens to hamper productivity and explode wage bills across the sector, with just 60 mining engineering students expected to graduate across Australia in 2020.
Our Mining Future, which includes a range of advocates of Kalgoorlie-Boulder’s WA School of Mines from academia and industry, wants to engage with schools in Esperance, Geraldton, Bunbury and Perth to promote the city as a tertiary education destination.
It also wants to promote WASM to first-year students at its parent university, Curtin University’s Bentley campus in Perth.
Ms Shugg said it was essential to show students mining could offer them a bright future.
“I think the mining industry suffers from a bad reputation sometimes and there’s plenty of people that work in the mining industry that can say that’s not the case,” she said.
“We just need to get some people out there into schools sharing their career stories and the opportunities they’ve been able to have for themselves and their communities ... so students can realise there are some fantastic opportunities they can make the most of.”
Final-year WASM student Anis McGowan said she had seen numbers at the Kalgoorlie campus halve since she arrived in 2015.
She is now the president of a student guild which has dwindled from 20 committee members to just three in the past three years.
“It’s scary,” she said.
“We get booked out all the time by companies trying to throw money at us to get students involved, but there’s no students.”
She said negative perceptions about mining’s impact on the environment and the boom-and-bust nature of the resources cycle scared young people away from the industry. Ms Shugg said it was also important to get school students visiting mine sites.
“These students need to go to a couple of mines and hear from people doing the jobs and hearing about the amazing things they do in their jobs and in their lives, working in mining and the opportunities they want to make the most of,” she said. “Then we can break down some of those barriers and those myths that are out there in the industry and share that message that it is a good industry.”
A recent survey conducted by research agency YouthInsight found that, of 1061 senior high school students and first-year university students aged between 15 and 20, 45 per cent of respondents had never thought about a career in the mining industry.