Quarterly report: Mining ringing in changes with new year

An aerial shot of people working in the Australian mining industry.

The last quarter of 2019 was filled with fascinating developments in Australian mining industry employment. To find out what’s been going on, read more here.

As we start 2020, we wanted, first of all, to thank the countless people across Australia who are providing their personal time to help the numerous communities affected by the terrible fires. What these people have done is nothing short of a herculean effort.

Back to mining, and the last quarter was notable for several major reasons – most noteworthy being we are seeing more and more trainee and entry-level positions open up, suggesting the industry has acknowledged at least one way it can tackle the skills shortage.

Let’s take a deep dive into what we’re seeing.

  

What’s going on in the Australian mining recruitment market?

Firstly, it is essential that we think about white-collar and blue-collar workforces differently.

On the white-collar side, a huge amount continues to be done by mining companies to attract graduates. What we have noticed across the last six to nine months is more companies of all sizes are taking a positive message about careers in the mining industry to secondary school students. A great example was the 2019 SkillsWest Expo, which featured several mining and mining contract organisations.

On the blue-collar side, we are seeing more companies taking on trainees or entry-level candidates. We had a recent example of a client requiring six driller’s offsiders (all inexperienced) to start in January. We presented a number of candidates prior to Christmas and by 6 January all but two had accepted entry-level mining jobs with other mining employers. WARNING: This will continue throughout 2020. MOVE FAST!

  

What are we seeing across the Western Australian mining space?

Here’s a picture of what we’re seeing in WA:

  • Continued strong demand coming out of gold and iron ore sectors for trades, surface and underground staff, across both white- and blue-collar disciplines
  • Trade pay rates are going through the roof. HD Fitters are now getting up to $75/hr
  • Kalgoorlie and residential mining towns are now getting more media exposure in their battle against FIFO. In one week before Christmas four different media outlets called MPi for their take on Residential vs FIFO
  • More mining companies are looking overseas for technical trades and white-collar professional staff
  • More companies are opening up to entry-level candidates, both residential and FIFO
  • There’s a higher turnover across blue-collar staff, through the multitude of vacancies out there. Some companies are just accepting 30 to 40% turnover (eek!)

What are you going to change about your recruitment strategy in 2020?

There are some neat marketing initiatives coming through from mining and mining service companies at present, and others that are really doing nothing but lining the pockets of people like Mark Zuckerberg while providing minimal return on investment.

For example, there is a huge amount of money being spent on social media to brand companies as an employer of choice. But is it all noise with no substance?

Go on any social or professional platform and what used to be feed of your friends and people you follow is now a constant stream of advertisements. Personally, I don’t even think twice before moving past the pretty digger at sunset in the north eastern Goldfields labeled “Our EX3600 at Sunset”, let alone think about the company that paid Facebook to put it there.

Targeting communities on any social media platform is not about “pay and spray”. It’s about having a deep understanding of where your talent is hiding. It’s also about recognising if that platform actually has a professional connection to the audience. Often people actually use social platforms to be social and do not want to engage professionally on them. I’ve seen marketers show social media results with huge engagement rates — shares, likes and comments — but the question remains, “how many people have we employed and retained using this strategy?”

  

Job flow: mining job opportunities coming to Mining People

You just have to look at the green versus blue bar graph below to see 2019 was a big year for Mining People. Ten out of 12 months we took on more roles compared to 2018.

Year-on-year we have seen a growth rate of 15%, which may not seem huge, but when we look at the last year of the downturn for us (2016), we have seen a 40% growth in the vacancies we have worked on. The industry is now moving at a rate of knots and is set to continue throughout 2020.  

  

 Please enter an image description.


A temperature check of the main commodity markets 

This table pretty much sums up why the Western Australian mining space is red-hot right now!

  

 Please enter an image description.

  

In Summary

  • Firstly, big congrats to the two Australian companies, Saracen and Northern Star, who now own Kalgoorlie’s Super Pit. We hope the operation produces well for them and, in turn, they come up with some cracking initiatives for residential mining opportunities which help the town flourish.
  • We’ve seen more initiatives and engagement in schools (secondary and tertiary) to attract the next generation into mining. It’s great to see.
  • The industry has seen a number of people across two FIFO operations made redundant. However, we didn’t see a spike in the number of employees from these sites registering with us so we can only assume (and hope) they have been successful in finding other work.
  • The mining employment marketplace has changed. Doing the same things to attract your talent as you did last year and the year before will not work. If your marketing strategy is “all noise and no grunt”, please don’t take that personally but definitely look at what you are doing to attract your talent and achieve an ROI.

Now in our twenty-fifth year servicing the mining sector, we are excited about what 2020 will bring. We wish each of our candidates, clients and suppliers all the best for an outstanding, safe and profitable year.

 

As always, we are happy to hear from you about the kind of data you need about the market. We have access to a broad range of statistics we’re happy to share with our clients. Please help us improve this update by dropping us a reply at shane.moore@miningpeople.com.au with your ideas.

 

In the meantime, if you want a more detailed idea of what’s happening in your specific sector of the market, please give me a call on 08 9426 1549.

Shane Moore
General Manager – Workforce Operations & Career Services
Mining People International