● people working across all facets of mining left to pursue jobs in other industries
● fewer people considered mining engineering as a viable career option, so university enrolments dropped dramatically (with many Australian universities scratching courses altogether due to low numbers).
● Many candidates with mining experience have now spent years working outside of the industry.
● Graduate numbers are low, and newly graduated mining engineers tend to be snapped up quickly by large companies.
Technological developments have added yet another layer of complication. In recent years, we’ve seen jaw-dropping advancements in the realms of big data, automation and the use of drones – all of which are changing mining as we know it. Many workers view automation as a threat to job security, while industry leaders are concerned that tech-savvy professionals are pursuing roles in finance, manufacturing and agriculture, rather than in mining.
The upskilling opportunity
Obviously, this situation is destabilising and pressing. But mining’s latest challenge also presents us with an opportunity: to enhance the knowledge of experienced Australian mining professionals and rebuild the human capital that powered Australia’s previous boom.
Recruiters are seeing skilled mining professionals with a wealth of experience, who are in the process of – or are willing to begin – upskilling. This can be as simple as acquiring skill in new software packages.
As recruiters, we get to know our candidates – what they have to offer in a role isn’t always neatly captured in an HR checklist of technical skills. While they may require some training to bring them up to speed with the latest developments in mining technology, there are plenty of Australians who:
● already have valuable experience working in mining operations
● have abundant transferable skills
● possess the maturity that comes with life experience.
Attracting more students to study mining-related courses is part of the long-term solution. But we shouldn’t overlook the goldmine that already exists in this country: the people with mining expertise who will swiftly become indispensable if given the opportunity to upskill.
If this article resonates with you as an employer or a jobseeker, we’d love to hear from you at Reach4.