Energy Skills Queensland’s (ESQ) 2013 Heartbeat Report for the mining industry has identified younger and more diversified workers than ever before with significant recruitment challenges in coming years.
Queensland’s mining sector workforce has grown by 400% since 2003 to 77,600 employees. In 2012-13 the sector saw turnover rates up to 18% for workers leaving within a year of employment, presenting the greatest challenge to the sector.
Queensland is the only state in which the mining sector has recorded consistent growth over the past year.
The industry will need to replace the equivalent of its whole workforce within five years at current turnover rates of 21%.
Earlier projections of the workforce increasing by 30,000 people over five years are expected to be exceeded, with growth of 20,000 in the last two years alone.
The 2013 report sampled 30,500 workers, representing 58% of the entire comparative mining workforce, consisting of the coal, metal and other mining sectors.
ESQ chief executive, Glenn Porter, said the report’s findings into the average age of the workforce was a positive response to the risks of an ageing workforce identified in previous studies.
“The average age of the entire workforce has come down by four years since 2009 and the report shows the typical age of new recruits is 37, pointing to a continuing rejuvenation of the existing workforce,” Mr Porter said.
“Workforce shortages continue to exist in key job categories and these are likely to worsen as demand grows.
“It’s imperative industry and government continue to focus attention on strategies which meet the skills shortages and staffing issues we have identified so that together we can build a flexible and competent workforce.”
Other key findings in the report include:
- The average worker age is 40 years, down from 44 years in 2009.
- 78% of staff (non-contractors) have formal qualifications of Certificate III level or above, with 13% of the total workforce holding Bachelor degrees.
- The average length of service is 5.5 years.
- The average industry turnover rate is 21% with 18% leaving having had only commenced their employment in the last 12 months.
- Almost half of the sample workforce continues to be non-resident workers (living more than 100km away), with a quarter of all current employees classified as FIFO workers.
- Critical job categories include electrical trades, statutory roles, surveyors and mechanics.• The fastest growing job categories are electrical trades (12%), fitters (7%) and blast & shotfirers (6%).
- The current workforce works in the following Queensland regions: Mackay (39%), Fitzroy (30%), the North West (20%) and SEQ (9%).
- 2.7% are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers.
- Female workers represent 14% of the workforce, a growth of 2%.
Foreign Workers and 457 Visas Holders
The report states that just above 1% of the current workforce are skilled migrants being used to fill the gap between skills required by organisations and skills available in the labour market.
457 visa holders have an average length of service of two years, much lower than the wider sector average of 5.5 years.
The average age of the 457 worker is lower at only 36, and they are highly educated with 96% qualified at Certificate III level or above and 45% at Bachelor level or above.
Workers are predominantly employed as engineers, geoscientists and fitters, the most critical industry skills, and 69% living less than 100kms from their work.
“These findings provide valuable insight into the sector’s workforce which shows the industry is predominantly supporting Australian jobs and the Queensland economy rather than relying solely on 457 visa holders,” Mr Porter said.
“There are challenges associated with the remote nature of mining and the response time required to develop an employee to be fully productive, however with continued collaboration and strategic planning, industry can be prepared for future workforce growth.”
Energy Skills Queensland
Energy Skills Queensland is the Industry Skills Body leading energy industry and government engagement on education and training, skills development and labour market issues.
“Earlier projections of the workforce increasing by 30,000 people over five years are expected to be exceeded, with growth of 20,000 in the last two years alone.”