• Mining skills shortage is a fiction the industry must address
Mining skills shortage is a fiction the industry must address
05 Sep, 2018, 4 Comment

Summary: The fiction that is the WA mining industry’s looming skills shortage is already unravelling.....


In recent months, possibly as a prelude to hitting up government for more work visas to import cheaper foreign labour, the industry has been peddling the line that a shortage of skilled workers and rising wages are threatening to derail the next wave of mining investment in the State.


There’s a big difference between not being able to secure labour at what the miners want to pay and not being able to secure labour.


And the claim about rising wage costs is now being disputed by Woodside Petroleum boss Peter Coleman.


Coleman has taken an unprecedented shot at his Rio Tinto counterpart, Jean-Sebastian Jacques, telling Fairfax Media this week that he can’t see any evidence to support the latter’s assertion that rising demand for skilled workers ahead of the development of new iron ore mines and energy projects is fuelling inflation in the Pilbara.


Coleman says while wages in the resources industry are increasing, it is at a modest 3 per cent to 4 per cent. That’s hardly a blowout, particularly given WA’s non-existent wages growth since the last mining boom subsided.


There is no doubt that some of the State’s mining pockets are having more difficulty attracting workers. But that can be as much to do with the wages, living conditions or lifestyle on offer.

There’s a big difference between not being able to secure labour at what the miners want to pay and not being able to secure labour.



A timely survey by recruitment firm Mining People International will also reinforce a belief among many that the industry needs to get its house in order to improve its appeal to workers seeking more security in the mining cycle.


Asked to identify the employment drags on mining, MPI’s respondents cited age discrimination, slow recruitment processes and the difficulty of breaking into the industry without experience.


“There is a clear bias against older people which, as well as contributing to skills shortages, emphasises a general belief that the mining industry is not a long-term career,” one said.


And then there was this from another, channelling the widespread anger over the industry’s treatment of workers after the last boom: “The benefits of mining no longer compensate people for the costs of getting trained and the risks of losing your job in the next downturn. People need to be compensated better ... if they work in remote areas.”


Is the industry listening?

 


 


 

Sean Smith The West Australian 31/8/2018

Comments.
  • MyPassion

    Anonymous
    09 Sep, 2018

    I fully concur with the general message in this article. I started with onboarding process late Feb - left a casual job with the goal of flying out first week of March as advertised and mentioned first phone conversation. By the time I jumped through all the hoops, completed all additional inductions required (not many as I already had most) then giving the girls in the office a nudge, I finally flew out end of March. So I am 5 weeks without pay - it was like following a trail of bread crumbs. Grateful to have a casual job - the money is ok, but i really do have questions around the whole onboarding process and the subsequent treatment. In excess of 25 years in leadership I can honestly say it is not how I would treat people I employed. Then again as a casual we arnt really people are we - just a number.

  • MyPassion

    Anonymous
    07 Sep, 2018

    There is a clear bias against older people age discrimination, slow recruitment processes and the difficulty of breaking into the industry without experience. I have RII 785 skills excavator, loader and worded in coal mine but still no calls from WA it is a joke as soon as they see your age on licence they go cold on you

  • MyPassion

    Kenneth McDonald
    07 Sep, 2018

    Great article. If this sort of reporting keeps up and is not gagged by the "industry", we have a chance of not spending years looking for work while cheap labour is imported under our noses. Its time to speak up about the number of Engineers who grew up here being on the dole while soemone with poor skills who is prepared to do ANYTHING will work for next to nothi g with the goal being permanent residency. Really its time to make this a political platform.... What do you think ?. ....... Brave enough to speak.?........
  • MyPassion

    Greg Wilton
    07 Sep, 2018

    Unavailability of workers is a ferefy (false news). I feel there is not only discrimination of race or colour but also age. I am now 63 and have been gainfully employed in the construction industry since 1984. I have struggled to obtain or retain work for the past 3 years. They say they cant get people because of the work to life ratio. I was doing the hard yards when there was no ratio as there is today. The living conditions were ridiculous compared to today's standards. Older workers are usually more reliable and just want a steady income until retirement. Most companies don't respond to applications and if they do they only state you weren't successful in this instance. No voice contact or feedback as to what the advertiser was looking for in particular or what is need to succeed. After 30 years in the game I have just about done everything and yet i'm not qualified enough in my present role as a supervisor. Go figure.
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