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A strategy to secure the resources workforce

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Australia’s resources sector makes up more than half of Australia’s total exports and around 10% of Australia’s GDP.

Employment across the sector has remained fairly stable over the past year, and commodities such as gold and iron ore have buoyed our economy during a difficult year.

Resources and energy commodities are forecast to remain an important contributor to the Australian economy as it recovers from the economic impact of COVID-19. To support the sector, the government is investing in growth and modernisation, which will make Australia more competitive and create more jobs into the future. 

The resources sector provides over 260,000 highly paid jobs across Australia. Despite strong predicted growth and high wages, both enrolments and completions in resources related education and training have significantly decreased.

For example, between 2015 and 2019, completions in mining engineering, geological sciences and VET drilling or plant operations declined by between 49 and 70%. These are core skills that underpin operations for the resources sector.

In addition to these traditional vocations, the sector increasingly needs new skills, especially in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, driven by the uptake of new technologies and the development of methods to bring new commodities like hydrogen and critical minerals to the market. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has strengthened the government’s focus on supporting existing jobs and creating more. The strategy outlines the actions government is taking to address industry trends, promote opportunities and prepare Australians to take up jobs in the sector.

The strategy builds on the government priorities of growth and job creation, skills and education reform and workforce diversity and participation.

Figure 1. A strategy that builds on government priorities. 

Australia’s National Resources Workforce Strategy brings together relevant government programs under three themes to shape the workforce of the future: opportunity, participation and quality education.

Opportunity

As the sector evolves and expands into new commodities, the government is supporting the sector to innovate, be competitive and create more, diverse jobs that are safer and more rewarding.

Participation

The government is providing a range of programs to encourage and support Australians to take up these jobs and relevant education and training, in particular by those living in regional areas, women, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Quality

The government is pursuing significant skills and education reform to support stronger outcomes for industry, greater flexibility for students, and to provide Australians with more robust skill sets that are highly attractive to employers.