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Young Australians oblivious to mining

Screenshot from an Unearthed YouTube video

Despite mining contributing about 6 per cent of Australia’s GDP, a study by YouthSight revealed that 59 per cent of young people in the country know nothing at all about mining careers.

The results from the study were made public today at the MCA Minerals Education Summit in Melbourne and also through a press release issued by the industry-led, government-funded think tank METS Ignited, the Minerals Council of Australia, and the professional development organization AusIMM.

In the joint statement, the groups explained that the study used a nationally-representative sample of 1061 senior high school students and first-year university students aged between 15 and 20. The overarching finding was that their knowledge of mining careers was extremely low.

The poll also found that only 30 per cent of students had an interest in a career in mining or the mining equipment, technology and services, also known as METS, sector.

“Despite mining and METS providing jobs for 1.1 million Australians – or one in every 10 jobs – and great future prospects for our industry, it’s clear that we must do much more to make young people aware about the opportunities and rewards in mining and METS,” METS Ignited CEO Ric Gros said in the media brief.

Gross added that, within these sectors, areas such as information and communication technologies and professional and technical services saw a 164 per cent job growth between 2005 and 2015. “Australia’s world-class METS sector will need many highly-skilled young people to fill the jobs of tomorrow including drone pilots, environmental and social scientists and engineers. The jobs are there,” he said.

But youth don’t even “consider” a career in mining, the study revealed. Forty-five per cent of respondents said “It’s not an industry I’ve ever thought about,” while 40 per cent said, “I don’t know anything about mining.”

Interest was spiked, however, when salaries and benefits were brought to the table. According to the communiqué, 48 per cent showed interest based on high incomes on offer and 20 per cent based on the number of jobs and opportunities on offer, with job stability being a key driver of career selection.

“Our industry has a great story to tell – our high-skill, high-wage workforce is younger, better-paid, better trained and has a much higher share of apprentices than other sectors, with average full-time weekly pay of $2,610, 67 per cent higher than the all-industries average. We need to tell our story better to make young people and their parents aware of the tremendous opportunities on offer, including world-leading innovation,” Gavin Lind, MCA Executive Director Minerals Tertiary Education, said in the release.