Skills shortage a big concern for AMMA

AMMA director Minna Knight.
AMMA director Minna Knight.

THE head of one of Australia's largest mining advocacy groups says the nation's $427 billion worth of resource projects will soon be under real threat due to the crippling labour and skills shortage.

Australian Mines and Metals Association director Minna Knight said a recent report by workforce specialists, Pitcrew Consultants, served as a dire warning for the Australian Economy. She called on all levels of government to speed up a raft of training and workforce initiatives to address the demand for labour.

"As it stands there are around $236 billion of resource projects under way across Australia and a further $191 billion awaiting the final stages of approval," Ms Knight said.

"Pitcrew's data supports what the industry has been saying for many months - that unless we urgently address the worsening labour demand, these projects will not come to fruition.

"With 60,000 job vacancies predicted by 2013, government policymakers can no longer take the economic gains arising from Australia's resources projects for granted. Without immediate intervention, some of these projects will simply run out of workers."

But the scream for resource workers to come from afar does not serve well for other industries in regional and rural Australia, with many currently struggling to fill their own job vacancies.

CQUniversity regional economic development expert Professor John Rolfe said strong competition for a dwindling labour market will cause services to suffer in regional Queensland as businesses outside of the mining industry struggle to employ people.

Agricultural businesses across the state are already feeling the pinch, with many routinely hiring backpackers to fill holes in the workforce department.

Professor Rolfe believed the pull of the burgeoning mining industry could result in dire social consequences for regional and rural towns, with more locals or potential workers for vital services being lured by lucrative mining jobs.

Data from the Pitcrew report suggested that even with Queensland's best labour sourcing efforts, only half the currently planned resource project vacancies will be filled.

"Government policymakers can no longer take the economic gains arising from Australia's resources projects for granted."

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