One of the world’s major mining economies is stepping up to the plate and making it less challenging to find a job in the industry. That’s not to say it’s ‘easy’ to get one, or less time consuming. Indeed, for those after a particular position, it may still be a waiting game. However, the Australian Government is on a path to make the process of job-hunting across a number of major industries more streamlined. Mining is, not surprisingly, one of those industries.
Most mining sectors in Australia have been largely unaffected by the global covid-19 pandemic. Both the Federal and State governments there recognised very early on that mining would need to remain operational in order to pin up the country’s economy and went to some lengths to put in place measures that would allow it to safely do so.
It’s not all been plain sailing though with many pandemic related challenges to overcome. Notably, the state with the largest mining industry, and also the largest number of FIFO workers in the world, also has the toughest state border restrictions. Ultimately this has meant FIFO workers from other states and overseas employed in Western Australia’s mines have had to temporarily relocate to WA with their families in order to continue working. Many are currently living in hotels around Perth with flow on effects for the state’s hospitality industry. It has kept staff in those hotels fully employed throughout the pandemic.
Likewise, because the state government’s continued hard border policies have thus far kept the state free of community transmissions, intrastate travel and social restrictions have eased. Interstate and international FIFO families are taking the opportunity to do some exploring while they’re in the state, contributing significantly to local tourism. In some areas of the state, this is booming.
It’s not been without a lot of hard work, and workaround solutions, though. Stringent testing measures are in place at Perth airport with most FIFO workers required to undergo mandatory health checks and/or testing prior to boarding planes. There are additional screening protocols in place on most if not all sites.
Cleaning and hygiene practices on site and in camps have been stepped up, and many other similar protective measures put in place. As a result, mining has been able to continue mostly unaffected by the issues currently plaguing other sectors of the economy.
Given this, and the industry’s importance to the Australian economy, the Federal Government and the Minerals Council of Australia have united to come up with ways to develop and organise skills, and make job searching within the industry more efficient.
Launched in May 2020, the Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow project is helping “train highly skilled and qualified workers, including in regional areas, to meet the needs of businesses,” said Tania Constable, MCA chief executive. Notably she adds that the Mining Skills Organisation Pilot, which is part of the package and scheduled to run for 2 years, will “help prepare industry and learners for large-scale skills shifts by delivering new ways of learning which are responsive to a changing world, technology shifts and future global demand.”
The Mining Skills Organisation Pilot is open to anyone who has reached a point in their current career where they are looking for a career change. The program aims to attract them into the mining industry with an ‘apprentice’ type training program that will equip them with highly relevant skill sets and qualifications.
The training and qualifications are all linked to evolving technologies like data analytics and automation, all of which are essential to the mining industry of the future. These skills and knowledge will also be able to be transferred to associated industries including METS and mining equipment.
Safety in mining, mental health, and embedding a ‘culture of respect’ will also be key components of the program as the industry seeks to improve its image both as an employer and as a business partner.
Successful applicants will be partnered up with an industry employer and given ‘accelerated education and training’ on the job. It’s envisaged that this targeted investment in people, innovation and skills will improve the industry’s image as one that offers fulfilling careers in a range of highly skilled and highly paid roles. It will also help the industry remain competitive in an era where competition for sought after technological skills is increasing from sectors like IT
In a similar bid to streamline employment opportunities within the industry, the Australian Gold Industry Group (GIG) has launched Gold Jobs. The online platform is designed to bring employment opportunities and career pathways within the gold sector together in one convenient hub. The types of positions advertised through the platform cover the entire spectrum from entry level to upper management.
Gold Jobs though isn’t just about advertising jobs. One of the aims of the GIG generally is to ‘tell the story of Australian gold’ and educate the public about its value within the Australian economy. The Gold Jobs platform for instance includes detailed descriptions of the skill sets required for various positions by way of pre-recorded videos done by people who already perform those roles. A sort of ‘day in the life of….’ scenario.
Visitors to the site, who aren’t all necessarily looking for jobs, can use the resources to learn more about the gold industry in general and about various roles in particular. It’s also a valuable resource for those still looking to make their life career choices, and one that may just swing their decision towards the gold mining industry.
The videos also provide an insight into/profile of the companies advertising the positions, which is somewhat unique for this type of recruitment portal. The intent is to find candidates that are not just right for the job but are also the right fit with respect to company culture. Employees who fit into a company’s culture are more likely to stay there for longer.
Is there a need for this type of recruitment hub? Apparently so, if the success Gold Jobs has enjoyed so far is any indication. It launched in May 2020 and within a month had 79 roles advertised on it from right across the gold sector. That alone is proof that some sectors of mining are still very much alive and well despite covid-19.
(This article first appeared in Mining International Inc.)