Home' Be : Issue 9 Contents Be: Cover story
resources sector salaries make it tough for regional
businesses to recruit or retain workers. "At the peak of the
boom, perhaps two or three years ago, we had really long-
established businesses who employed 250 -plus employees
that were finding that they were losing really reliable
good sta straight out to the mining sector, quite simply
because of wages."
While she welcomes the economic
benefits that coal exports bring
to the region, Porter says labour
concerns cannot be ignored.
However, she draws some hope
from workers who are once
bitten, twice shy as a result of mining layo s during
the financial crisis. "I think it's made them think twice
about job security," she says.
Porter says Mackay is "not alone in this boat", with
other cities in regional strongholds across the nation
reporting similar concerns about wages inflation and talent
shortages. e key, she believes, is ramping up education
through regional universities and other training facilities
along with greater government funding to address issues
such as infrastr ucture, housing, health and childcare
shortfalls. "We've got to try and make it more attractive
for others to relocate out of capital cities to regional centres
Boom or bust
While the portents are good for the resources sector, some
analysts warn against complacency.
Peter Smith, Professor of Organisational Systems in the
Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Health at CQUniversity,
says failure to invest in regional areas may threaten the
nation's "quar ry and farm" economy.
"Skills shortages really reflect an underinvestment in
these regions and in people," he says.
Professor Smith's point is clear. Ignoring port, road,
rail and housing infrastr ucture along with support
services such as health and education could threaten the
very future of resources projects that various gover nments
have been tr umpeting. Emerging nations such as Bra zil
will be quick to fill any void. "Mining companies play a
global game," he says.
Professor Smith has no doubt that continuing
professional development is one of the solutions to the
skills shortage. He advocates a two-tiered workforce
whereby a band of highly skilled professionals is supported
by a dedicated para-professional team that handles
administration or more operational work.
e dominance of multinational companies in the
resources sector also mea ns the inter national recr uitment of
skills must be managed "in a very di erent way", according
Whereas in the past the influx of foreign students into
the education sector has been seen in some quarters as a
"funding top-up" for universities, he says the emphasis
should shift to better utilising such overseas talent in the
Australian workforce as part of a long-ter m skills solution.
Professor Smith comments: "We have a huge
opportunity and a huge need to look at training for
inter national people who are going to spend some of their
working lives in Australia."
e Rudd gover nment has announced refor ms to the
national per manent skilled migration program that
promise to provide some relief to the mining industry as
the skills shortage worsens. e changes allow the states
to prioritise skilled migrants and target people who fit the
skills requirements of certain sectors such as mining.
CQUniversity's Professor Rolfe says in recent years many
resources companies have relied on importing workers from
Resources scholarships and
new training programs are
among the weapons being
used to develop a new
generation of workers in
Dr Colin Greensill,
Associate Professor of
Mining in the Faculty of
Sciences, Engineering and
Health at CQUniversity,
says that with about
$115 billion of mining and
energy projects at various
stages of development in
Queen sland the re is no
doubt there will be a "skills
crunch" in coming years.
He believes the
solutions could include
recruitment, but would
like to see reskilling of
workers to participate in
growing resources sectors,
and greater automation
of tasks. Mining giant
Rio Tinto, for example, is
leading the automation
trend through the use of
driverless trains and trucks.
CQUniversity is playing
its part in educating and
training a new generation
of workers through
and innovative programs.
It recently announced a
deal in conjunction with
the Queensland Resources
ILLUSTRATION: BRIAN VALLESTEROS AT ILLUSTRATIONROOM.COM.AU
Links Archive Issue 8 Issue 10 Navigation Previous Page Next Page