Recruitment rethink needed as Covid squeezes labour market

apple being squeezed in vice

Policy responses to coronavirus exacerbated an already tight labour market in the WA industry, and the shortage is expected to get worse before it gets better.

Policy responses to coronavirus exacerbated an already tight labour market in the WA industry, and the shortage is expected to get worse before it gets better. 


With WA’s international hard border to the rest of the world stopping workers travelling freely, miners looking to fill vacancies as quickly as possible are being urged to adapt where they can in order to attract the staff they need. 


Mining People Managing Consultant – Workforce Perth, Brayden Santich, said demand for labour is continuing to grow but supply is still shrinking, and that’s being amplified by the border policy. 


We’re caught in a situation where new projects are commencing, or increasing in size, and we have no new labour entering” he said. 


“Unfortunately, Government incentives and support packages are also making it less appealing, currently, to enter mining in an entry-level position that perhaps doesn’t pay the stereotypical ‘big mining dollars’.” 


Brayden said the skills shortage is being experienced “across the board”, but trades and maintenance personnel are particularly difficult to find, as are those with drill and blast experience. 


Susan Lawrence, Mining People’s General Manager of Professional and Technical, said there are similar difficulties finding the right people across her side of the industry. 


Mining companies need to have a look at their offering if they want to attract new staff, as the squeeze for candidates is just getting tighter and tighter,” she said.  


Susan said it has proven easier to find good candidates for positions with more attractive conditions, for example 8/6 rosters. 


It’s not a change that many miners can make overnight, but it’s worth some review to help us all work together to fill roles,” she said. 


Brayden said the labour market is expected to tighten before it improves. 


So what is his best advice to mining companies wanting to put themselves in the best possible position to meet their recruitment needs? 


  • Consider people who have left mining previously and are trying to get back in. They understand the environment and, although they may have been absent from the industry, still understand how it works and what is expected at its most basic level. 
  • Create more entry-level or genuine trainee roles. However, that means fast-tracking employees with one to three years experience.  
  • Get creative with your hiring strategy. Can we offer other incentives? Can we offer relocation assistance for inter- and intrastate moves? If we keep throwing more money, the market will begin to price itself out of acceptability. What else can you offer to make your role more appealing? Or what can you offer to keep employees where their salary may be lower? 


Mining People International has more than 26 years’ specialist experience helping mining companies find the best candidates across every job category. Find out more here or get in touch today. 


Dan Hatch
Mining People International