Alistair Brightman

The end of the blue and white collar workers in mining

ONE resources expert is predicting the end of blue and white collar employees in mining and the rise of the "light blue" collar worker.

After purging their companies of thousands of workers, University of Queensland's Dr John Steen said miners were now looking for highly skilled, multi-talented employees rather than a huge workforce.

"The miners aren't just grabbing anyone who has a pulse anymore," he said.

"We're not going to see that again in the foreseeable future... the glory days are over."

Dr Steen said high-level mining executives and managers often lamented the invisible communication barrier between employees in different departments, such as blasters rarely speaking with truck drivers, and truck drivers rarely speaking with those working in the coal-handling operation.

He said it meant they did not understand how their roles impacted others or how they could help others.

Dr Steen, who worked with Ernst and Young on a mining productivity research report, believes the problem stems from fly-in/fly-out operations as people walk on-site, do their job, then leave for their own communities.

Better employees with higher qualifications coupled with investing in technology should be where mining companies need to aim towards to be successful, he said.

Dr Steen said the mining industry's smaller workforce and the completion of the construction phase made it more difficult to find employment - something Mackay and Gladstone companies were experiencing right now.

But he said Adani's Carmichael mine could increase job opportunities in the industry.

Dr Steen said Toowoomba was benefiting from the gas industry and improved demand for agricultural produce.

He said it was flowing through to the regional economy and providing better services and infrastructure for Toowoomba.

Dr Steen emphasised mines were not dead, rather they were returning to the 1990s when mining was "normally a very low-margin game".

- APN NEWSDESK


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