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Australia warned over mining job squeeze

July 1, 2011

“Growing manpower shortages in Australia’s booming resources sector are weighing on productivity and could prompt some big companies to shift some operations to other countries, the industry’s key employer group has warned. Nearly 90 per cent of companies in Australia’s resources sector face problems recruiting workers, according to the Australian Mines and Metals Association. …

He urged the government of prime minister Julia Gillard to step up efforts to help tackle the labour shortages by further relaxing criteria – on everything from language abilities to length of stay – so that resource companies can bring more foreign workers into the country and boost skills training. At the moment it can be expensive and take a long time to get approval to bring in foreign workers.

Acknowledging the critical role of resources in Australia’s economy, the government this year launched a scheme to facilitate the entry of foreign workers to resources projects worth over A$2bn and allocated a substantial part of a $3bn package for skills training to resources sector jobs.”

Source: Wall Street Journal, June 30 2011

Observations:

  • Interest in mining education on all levels is declining around the world. Highly skilled employees in the industry have historically been very mobile geographically, but various countries have stepped up the entry barriers to stimulate domestic employment levels.
  • For most jobs Australian companies are obliged to first search in the domestic market for a suitable candidate before being allowed to recruit international talent, following a strict and lengthy process.

Implications:

  • Companies will not be able to move the production work to other countries, and will therefore probably mainly look to move the more skilled employees in project management and corporate functions to (regional) headquarters. A potential solution for shortages of on-site personnel for some companies could be to bring in more contract workers from abroad.
  • The shortage of employees will be one of the key themes of the development of the mining industry in Australia. The ability to recruit internationally and the skill in designing attractive FIFO rosters for the remote operations will determine the success of companies.

©2011 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

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  1. Alexander Zilo
    August 14, 2011 at 3:41 am

    Australia needs to reach out to the poor nations to solicit manpower.

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