The world is not enough

DESPITE financial instability creating high levels of unemployment worldwide, the Australian resources sector shouldn't expect to source most of its skilled workers from overseas markets.
The world is not enough The world is not enough The world is not enough The world is not enough The world is not enough

The judgement comes from a joint study between The Resource Channel and Marketforce, which found seven of the world's LNG-producing countries planned to double production in the coming decade.

Coupled with this is the expected activity from the mining sectors of South Africa, Canada, the US and South America, which are expected to ramp up growth during the same period.

The increase in activity will draw 250,000 new entrants to the resources industry worldwide during the next decade, severely limiting the pool Australia can draw from.

The Resource Channel said if Australian businesses were to meet the gap for skilled workers, they needed to diversify away from the many countries expecting a boom in production over the next decade, as these countries were also considered potential pools for talent.

It urged Australian businesses to develop a more tactical approach to securing short-term international employees while actively developing skills within Australia and warned of the effect of retirements on the sector.

"Not only does the Australian resource sector plan to significantly expand in the next decade but the 5000 or so replacements required each year to account for retirements and exits from the industry mean employers will need to consider alternative sourcing options," The Resource Channel director Jody Elliot said.

"Essentially, it means far greater consideration needs to be placed on entry-level opportunities for local labour - apprentices, graduates, trainees and cross-skilling those from other sectors with transferrable skills.

"Now is not the time to decrease opportunities in these areas - for any Australian resource sector employer."

The research found engineering student levels had dropped in most countries and nearly a quarter of technical professionals working in the oil and gas sector were older than 50, with a majority of those scheduled to retire within the next five years.

This mass exodus, coupled with a lack of new talent, could lead to a shortfall of 5000 petrotechnical staff a year.

The situation is best described by Caterpillar's struggle to find skilled workers in the US, despite a high unemployment rate.

In Detroit, where unemployment runs as high as 50%, Caterpillar distributors in the area have up to 50 job openings for service technicians they simply cannot fill.

The worldwide shortage of workers, combined with a lack of entry-level positions, has created a tight labour market worldwide, with The Resources Channel urging Australian employers to become more creative about recruiting.

"The research highlights that there is no one location that can be targeted as a total recruitment solution," Elliot said.