Forum crucial to solving the complex mining skills gap

Leaders from the resources sector are aiming to address the chronic and systemic skills shortage facing the industry at November’s International Mining and Resources Conference & Expo (IMARC)

The Federal Government’s jobs and skills summit will this week work towards addressing Australia’s overall labour shortage but solving that complex crisis within mining will require urgent industry-wide collaboration.

Over 250,000 people are employed across the mining value chain, making it one of the largest employment industries in the country.

Australia leads the world in exploration and extraction and there is absolutely no reason why it cannot lead in new recruitment strategies as well. 

Among those taking part in the IMARC conference is Debbie Smith, National Mining Leader of PWC Australia, who says there is a lot more Governments could do to diversify towns like Gladstone to make them more than just mining towns. This will help attract long-term residents to these areas who are looking to escape the expensive capital cities. 

“COVID-19 has had a lot of people assessing work life balance and the importance of family. We learnt how much can be done from people’s home and there is no reason why those homes cannot be in regional Australia,” said Ms. Smith.

With businesses across Australia currently experiencing financial pressure associated with inflation, supply chain disruptions and the after-effects of border closures, radical reform is required. 

Ian Wells, Chief Financial Officer at Fortescue, who will also be speaking at IMARC, says due to the tight labour market in Australia coupled with difficulties in accessing international workers, the industry as a whole is struggling to attract and retain workers. 

Fortescue has invested heavily in local talent, including through the Billion Opportunities program which has invested over $4 billion into Aboriginal businesses since 2011.

Mr Wells says “when the mining industry is strong, all Australians benefit, with the Western Australian resources sector contributing $100 billion directly to the national economy in financial year 2022-21. The mining sector is a great place to work with many opportunities, and while our sector is committed to training and developing Australians to be part of the workforce of the future, current acute skills shortages means we must look beyond our borders for additional workers.

“As an industry, we must and can do more to build on our commitment to developing a diverse workforce that is reflective of society and to foster a workplace culture that truly embraces diversity and inclusiveness. We believe that diversity has been key to our success and we remain strongly committed to increasing female and Aboriginal employment across the business.”

IMARC’s Director of Conference Content & Strategy Sherene Asnasyous, says the forum in November will provide a crucial platform for conversations about the next steps towards an essential increase in recruitment and retention across the industry. 

“IMARC will allow global leaders and emerging game-changers from the entire mining value chain the unique opportunity to come together under one roof and tackle not only the skills-shortage but other urgent challenges facing the industry right now including the energy transition, rising costs, social performance, and diversity within the resources sector,” she said. 

With over 450 speakers across six concurrent conferences covering global opportunities, industry collaboration, the energy transition, investment, innovation and more, IMARC is the most significant in-person gathering of Australian and international mining and resources representatives in almost three years and will be held 2-4 November at the Sydney International Convention Centre. 

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