This demand is expected to grow. According to the ABS, Labour Force Survey (November 2021), employment in mining, in Australia, is projected to grow by 5.9% over the five years to November 2026. The demand for skilled workers is high including:
Blue-collar machinery workers are in high demand in the mining industry as they play a critical role in operating and maintaining heavy machinery, such as drills, loaders, and excavators.
Engineers, including mining, electrical, mechanical, and civil engineers, are also highly sought after in the mining industry.
Information technology (IT) engineers are becoming increasingly important in the mining industry as the industry becomes more digitized and automated.
Other talents that are highly valued in the mining industry in Australia include geologists, environmental scientists, safety and health professionals, project managers, and logistics experts.
Attracting and retaining these talents is key. In fact, Western Australia is a vast state and the remote location of mineral and resource deposits requires workers to spend extended periods of time away from home. Fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) work practices are therefore common in Western Australia (WA) which the majority are male. The Education and Health Standing Committee has also estimated 9.3% of WA’s population is directly impacted by FIFO work arrangements.
Attracting Fly-In Fly-Out (FIFO) workers to mining operations can be a challenge, especially in a highly competitive job market. However, there are several strategies that mining companies can use to attract and retain FIFO workers:
To retain employees and promote industry longevity, providing high-quality living conditions and amenities for Fly-In Fly-Out (FIFO) workers is crucial. This includes well-maintained rooms with comfortable beds, air conditioning, heating, and reliable internet access, as well as healthy and nutritious food. Access to recreational facilities, such as on-site gyms and sports fields, can also promote physical and mental well-being. Research from the WA Mental Health Commission shows that recreational activities with a social element, such as barbecues and social sports, are associated with better mental health and well-being for FIFO workers.
To improve job satisfaction and retention rates in the mining industry, companies should consider shorter rosters for Fly-In Fly-Out (FIFO) workers. This allows them to spend more time with their families and in their communities, which can reduce stress and improve mental health. Research from the WA Mental Health Commission shows that FIFO workers on even-time and shorter rosters (for example 8 days on/6 days off) have better mental health and well-being outcomes than those on longer rosters with less time for recovery.
Undoubtedly, salary is a critical factor for many FIFO workers and serves as a significant motivator. A competitive salary not only compensates for the hardships of being away from home but also acknowledges the employees' contributions and recognizes their exceptional performance.
However, it’s not just about the salary. According CoreData WA, there are many financial incentives that employers can use to attract and retain mining talent, with annual (79.5%) and productivity (79.1%) bonuses, short-term incentive plans (61.6%) and profit sharing (61.2%) frequently rated as important.
Overall, retention of skilled workers is critical for the success of the mining industry in Western Australia, and mining companies must take proactive steps to create a positive and supportive work environment that encourages workers to stay with the company for the long term.