The 6 biggest challenges facing mining recruiters today

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Here are the 6 biggest challenges facing mining industry recruiters today and what to do about them.

The mood in the mining industry has lifted out of the doldrums in the past 18 months.

While many are celebrating, for those who work in the recruitment side of the mining business, the uptick has brought unwelcome reminders of some of the trickier realities we faced during the last boom.

Here are the six biggest challenges facing mining industry recruiters today, and what to do about them, according to three of Mining People International’s experts.

Skills are in short supply

Let’s start with the obvious one: with so much of the resource industry moving forward at once, and with so many projects going from construction to production, we’ve moved back into a skills shortage.

Blue-collar operators are in high demand – from dump truck operators through to all types of tradespeople. Any latent excess capacity across most technical skill disciplines has now been absorbed, with most experienced people now in longer term contract or full-time roles.

FURTHER READING: As mining’s skills shortage bites, here’s what to do

There is still an element of underemployment, but even this is starting to change. So, from a macro level, this all means mining recruiters faced with a need to hire at short notice are discovering the talent pool is very small. If they haven’t had to recruit for some time, it’s coming as quite a shock.

It’s not going to get any easier

Unlike the last boom, this uptick is being driven across a number of commodity sets. That means things are only going to get worse before they get better. These problems will be exacerbated by the swag of projects and mines due to come online over the next few years, after a long period of construction and new mine developments in decline.

Mining employers have begun to realise that finding experienced people is not going to get any easier – and that’s across the board, not just in the trades and professional technical areas, as it was earlier in 2018.

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Jobseekers are shunning residential mining jobs

Mining communities are experiencing a severe shortage of skilled candidates who either already live nearby or are prepared to relocate.

Those who have lived in these communities and worked in the industry in the past may be reluctant to return because they were burned by the last downturn and the global financial crisis, and changed careers outside of mining altogether.

RELATED: Should I move my family to take up a residential mining job?

There are other factors, too. Kalgoorlie in particular is struggling to attract workers because the city has been negatively portrayed in the media over the past year or two.

While the media’s focus is starting to change (note Today Tonight’s segment about Kalgoorlie’s “$100,000 mining jobs for workers with no experience”) and local authorities are doing what they can to market the city more positively, it’s proving a hard sell for mining companies and recruiters.

Workers remember the last bust and want stability

Tradespeople are always difficult to source for mining roles, even FIFO opportunities, as other industries have become more competitive with their salaries and work opportunities. Job stability is one of the most important factors for skilled jobseekers, and those who have worked in mining before, and were burned by the market crash, are less likely to return — seeking more secure opportunities within construction, commercial and domestic industries instead.

FURTHER READING: Providing this one thing could stop staff turnover

Short-term solutions are making a rod for our own backs

Some companies with residential communities are opting to fly workers in and out from all around the country, as a temporary measure, until the local market swings back in their favour. This is very likely to do more harm than good — not just for the mining communities, who will suffer — but for the mining companies who are baking-in considerable expenses as being able to work FIFO becomes an expectation for workers.

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Online job boards are no longer proving effective

Lastly, there has been a marked decline in the effectiveness of online job search sites like SEEK. This isn’t about the site, it’s about the nature of the mining jobs market. You can no longer post an advert and expect an abundance of suitably qualified people to apply — these people just aren’t out there trawling SEEK anymore. They’re in such high demand, the job offers are coming to them, instead.

Here’s what we can do about it

There’s no doubt about it, the lot of a mining industry recruiter has become harder in recent months. But there are things you can do to give yourself the best chance of finding the best possible candidates for any mining job:

  • Offer stability and longevity. Offer the longest possible duration of employment for contract roles or, ideally, offer permanent ones
  • Place importance on forward planning. Where possible, allow additional time to find the right candidate for any given job. Be proactive, rather than reactive
  • Communicate all options. Make sure you can attract workers who may not entirely match the job criteria, but who offer enough skills and experience to become a valuable member of staff with a little extra training, by communicating in your job ad (or to your labour hire agency) that you’re willing to consider them
  • Be prepared to outsource. External recruitment consultancies are, as part of their process, out there networking in the mining industry day in, day out. They have a deep understanding of the market and can help you find the right candidate for any role.

Mining People International has more than 23 years’ specialist experience helping mining companies find the best candidates across every job category. Find out more here or get in touch today.

Contributors to this article:

Shane Moore, General Manager, Workforce Operations

Kylie Nunweek, Managing Consultant, Workforce Kalgoorlie

Scott Deakin, Managing Consultant, Geology and Mining