Supporting growth and modernisation in the sector to make Australia more competitive, create more jobs, and increase the diversity of career opportunities.
New career opportunities are prevalent in the resources industry and the demand for workers is growing.
While COVID-19 has impacted many sectors, the resources sector has shown resilience and relatively strong growth, which is predicted to continue.
Wages, career opportunities, industrial relations, and stringent health and safety requirements in the Australian resources sector are amongst the best in the world. Australian resources are of a high quality and are in global demand, which will continue to create opportunities for Australians.
The demand for new and emerging skills is also on the rise, driven by the uptake of new technologies and emerging sectors like critical minerals and hydrogen. The integration of technologies is creating a range of different jobs in the resources sector.
The government is committed to supporting this growth and modernisation in the sector to make Australia more competitive, create more jobs, and increase the diversity of career opportunities.
The government is pursuing a range of initiatives in the sector to support growth, identify opportunities and improve conditions, including through enhancing technologies.
A growing sector that’s creating jobs
Global demand for Australian resources, including iron ore and gold, is supporting the Australian economy, creating jobs and providing greater job certainty for those already in the industry.
There is a rising demand for university and TAFE qualifications such as drilling and surveying and for specialists in structural geology, metallurgical engineering, geo-statistics, hydrologists and rail engineering.
Prior to COVID-19, strong job growth was forecast with 15,400 new jobs (6.2%) expected in the sector by May 2024. Despite the global impact of COVID-19, in November 2020, total employment in the mining sector increased, up 8.5% from February 2020.
The government is supporting this growth through the National Resources Statement, a statement outlining actions to achieve the world’s most advanced, innovative and successful resources sector which delivers prosperity to all Australians. One such action includes the $225 million Exploring for the Future initiative that is dedicated to exploring Australia’s resource potential and boosting investment.
As the sector grows, new jobs will be created. The government is supporting Australia’s growth into new markets, including by implementing Australia’s Technology Investment Roadmap , Australia’s Critical Minerals Strategy and Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy .
The government is ensuring that industrial relations and employment conditions continue to support business growth and job creation across Australia. This includes effective and fair industrial relations arrangements for employers and employees, while incorporating and adapting to the changing work practices resulting from the industry’s increased adoption of advanced technologies.
The government established a number of dedicated working groups on industrial relations reform with members representing industry, employees and their representatives.
One of these groups examined changes to the greenfields agreements that would provide certainty to business and support investment in job-creating major projects. Other groups assessed casual and fixed-term employment, award simplification, enterprise agreement making, and compliance and enforcement.
Australia's resource and energy export values and volumes
Technology: changing the resources workplace
New technologies are ensuring the Australian resources sector remains productive and internationally competitive.
Technologies, such as robotics, automation, GPS technologies and big data, are being incorporated throughout resources project lifecycles and across the mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector. Prior to COVID-19, the uptake of these technologies was projected to further contribute to job creation with up to 80,000 new jobs across the METS sector by 2030, and create an economic impact of over $52 billion.
As well as increasing efficiency, improving environmental management, and providing additional job opportunities, technology is changing the workplace and improving the health
and safety of workers.
For example, remote operating centres offsite from mining projects increase worker safety, as they provide direct connectivity to mines without the need to be on site.
The government and community expectations hold industry to the highest safety standards. Safety is critical in maintaining effective and reliable operations, as well as supporting workers and communities, and attracting new employees.
The government is promoting ways for employers and educators to test and understand the practical workplace impacts that different technologies have in the workplace, and test which skills are needed to support them.
For example, the government has allocated $6 million to the Industry 4.0 Testlabs pilot program, including a gas-focused testlab in WA, to understand and test the practicalities of different digital technologies.
Send in the drones
Brisbane-based company Emesent, a spin-out from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), specialises in drone autonomy, LiDAR mapping, and data analytics.
Their flagship product, Hovermap, is smart mobile scanning unit that automates the collection and analysis of data in challenging, inaccessible environments, such as underground mines. Data collection creates significant safety and operational challenges in underground mines.
People and equipment are regularly sent into hazardous areas, which poses a significant risk to their safety. Hovermap enables a drone to navigate into these areas to map them, keeping personnel away from danger and improving the quality of data collected to unlock new insights.
Diverse career opportunities
Technology is contributing to the diversity of jobs available, and the different skillsets that industry needs.
The resources sector is no longer just hard hats and high-vis vests, it also includes careers in environmental science, engineering, finance, chemistry, public relations, information technology, health and safety, geology and human resources. These roles are spread across metropolitan and regional areas.
In 2019, Ernst and Young published The Future of Work: Changing Skills Landscape for Miners. The report mapped the impact of digital technologies on the resources workforce across all segments of the supply-chain and the changing demand for specific workforce skills. These changes are driving the creation of new, well-paid specialist occupations, such as data scientists and mechatronic engineers.
Changing labour market conditions are creating demand for additional skills across existing resources sector occupations. These include: creativity, change management, data analysis, digital literacy, design thinking, stakeholder analysis, active listening and learning, as well as strategic planning.
To better understand and quantify this future demand, the Australian Resources and Energy Group is undertaking regular forecasting studies to map the expected growth in the national resources workforce, including specific occupations where shortages may emerge . This will inform government, the education sector, and industry to help understand and develop policy, skills and workforce planning strategies.