Looming shortage of mine workers

9 Oct 2013, Sarah-Jane Tasker – The Australian.

SOUTH Australia’s resources sector will create an additional 35,000 jobs in the next 16 years and faces an acute shortage of skilled workers in the next five, according to industry research.

The projected new jobs are in addition to the approximately 15,000 who are already employed in the sector, according to the Resources and Engineering Skills Alliance.

Phil de Courcey, chief executive of RESA, said with 40 resources projects in the pipeline the level of workers needed would not come as a surprise but he warned that the industry, governments and educational institutions had to prepare now for future demand.

“While there is a challenge associated with getting people skilled to take up the roles, there is also an opportunity for South Australia with social and economic benefits.

“RESA revealed preliminary figures yesterday ahead of next week’s release of the results of the first comprehensive analysis of South Australia’s mining workforce requirements in the run-up to 2030.

Mr de Courcey said although the increase in demand for skilled workers would not put the state in the same league as resources giant Western Australia, in terms of mineral projects, the state had the potential to be the next Queensland.

“The precise data is being finalised but there is no doubt that South Australia can look forward to a strong growth of mining-based employment across the three spheres of supply chain companies, developing mines and operational mines,” he said.

The initial findings also point to an acute shortage, particularly by 2018, in some occupations. Early indicators, according to RESA, point towards the highest demand being for crusher and dragline operators, exploration drillers, laboratory assistants, underground and open-cut miners, and mobile plant and process plant operators.

Mr de Courcey said the “acute” shortage was based on the present supply of those skills and projected needs.

“Hopefully there won’t be skill shortages, but there will always be particular occupations and skills that are going to be in demand,” he said.

He added that the aim was for the results to be used to provide broader understanding of the shortages to enable appropriate activities to meet this demand, which he said was already starting to be addressed.

“Some work has started because South Australia was looking at the Olympic Dam expansion and that was getting everybody to think about these issues,” he said.

“There have been several initiatives taken both at vocational training and university level. Some of the responses are starting and this report says we need to continue to think about the future and focus on the opportunities.

“The results to be released on October 17 will show the year by year employment growth in five categories: semi-skilled, skilled operator, trade and technical, professional and administrative support.

“The towns of the far north and Eyre Peninsula, where many new mines are developing, are likely to be the focus of regional employment growth,” Mr de Courcey said.

Read more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/mining-energy/looming-shortage-of-mine-workers/story-e6frg9df-1226735065217#sthash.Srp08KWY.dpuf


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