Advances in technology mean strength and bruteforce are no longer requirements for resources jobs.Positions for professionalengineers, geologists, metallurgists and skilled tradespeople now dominate job listings.These roles also require lengthy training periods - anengineer is not ‘experienced’ until they’ve completedfour years of university followed by a 3- to 4-yeargraduate program.
The resources industry tends to operate in remotelocations with little residential infrastructure andaccommodation.This is especially true in the harsh climate ofAustralia’s North West where massive mining andenergy projects are currently under way.Despite many incentive programs to convince thecurrent Australian workforce to relocate to WesternAustralia, very few workers have taken advantage ofthe educational and financial incentives to do so.
Instead, many employers and employees settle for fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) arrangements allowing workers toreside in their home environment with long stretchesliving on site.Until more real communities are developed aroundproject sites, FIFO is the only real option for workersunwilling or unable to relocate.Find out more about FIFO jobs in Australia.
Where skills are in high-demand and shortsupply, employers have come to rely on overseasmigrant workers.The 457 visa is a temporary residency visa (long-stay)which allows businesses to sponsor skilled workers foremployment.Recent research by Edith Cowan University (ECU)explored the costs and benefits of employingmigrant workers as one way to address skilledlabour shortages.
One startling discovery in the 457 Visa Workers in theWestern Australian Resources Industry report was thecost of bringing skilled workers into the country.“The data suggests the majority of the costsassociated with employing workers on 457 visasare incurred by the industry with costs rangingbetween $7,000 and $65,000 for eachindividual worker.”
Clearly, the skills shortage is a complex problem requiring both time and money to resolve. As the global demand for Australian resourcescontinues, employers use a variety of solutions to keep their projects on track.
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