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3 Options to Address the Australian Skills Shortage As Australia experiences one of the lengthiest and most prosperous economic stretches in its history, the resources industry continues to be a major contributor to the overall economy. But a major skills shortage threatens the industry’s ability to keep the mines running and the offshore oil rigs pumping at optimal levels. Due to the on-going demand for skilled workers, employers in the Australian resources industry must search for ways to tackle the skills shortage. Three major solutions to the skills shortage are recognised by resources industry employers. One of the biggest challenges is finding skilled workers with resources experience. The three solutions commonly implemented include: 1) Train new workers and encourage more apprentices and apprenticeship programs. 2) Relocate the current Australian workforce to key operational areas in the resources industry. 3) Recruit skilled workers from overseas.

Training and apprenticeships Advances in technology mean strength and brute force are no longer requirements for resources jobs. Positions for professional engineers, geologists, metallurgists and skilled trades people now dominate job listings. These roles also require lengthy periods of education and training. For example, an engineer is not ‘experienced’ until they’ve completed, four years of university followed by a 3- to 4-year graduate program. While many industry training and development programs are currently on-going, it doesn’t fulfill the immediate need for skilled workers.

Relocating the Australian workforce The resources industry tends to operate in remote locations with little residential infrastructure and accommodation. This is especially true in the harsh climate of Australia’s North West where massive mining and energy projects are currently under way. Despite many incentive programs to convince the current Australian workforce to relocate to Western Australia, very few workers have taken advantage of the educational and financial incentives to do so. Instead, many employers and employees settle for fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) arrangements allowing workers to reside in their home environment with long stretches living on site. Until more real communities are developed around project sites, FIFO is the only real option for workers unwilling or unable to relocate.

Relying on skilled migration Where skills are in high-demand and short supply, employers have come to rely on overseas migrant workers. The 457 visa is a temporary residency visa (long-stay) which allows businesses to sponsor skilled workers for employment. Recent research by Edith Cowan University (ECU) explored the costs


and benefits of employing migrant workers as one way to address skilled labour shortages. One startling discovery in the 457 Visa Workers in the Western Australian Resources Industry report was the cost of bringing skilled workers into the country. “The data suggests the majority of the costs associated with employing workers on 457 visas are incurred by the industry with costs ranging between $7,000 and $65,000 for each individual worker.� Clearly, the skills shortage is a complex problem requiring both time and money to resolve. As the global demand for Australian resources continues, employers use a variety of solutions to keep their projects on track. For more information and for the latest mining jobs please visit Miningoilandgasjobs.com.

3 Options to Address the Australian Skills Shortage  
3 Options to Address the Australian Skills Shortage  

As Australia experiences one of the lengthiest and most prosperous economic stretches in its history, the resources industry continues to be...

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