A leading workforce provider in the mining and resource sector is growing increasingly concerned about the industry’s ability to recruit and retain enough skilled workers.
The mining boom has created a massive skills shortage, but one of Australia’s top recruiters, Chandler Macleod, is working constantly with the resource sector on re-shaping workforces to address the issue.
Chandler Macleod Group General Manager for Mining and Energy, Iain Langridge, said that while the industry knows what it’s looking for in its workforce, it is not sure where it will find them.
“According to our research, 62 per cent of managers said they know what skills they will need in the coming 12 months but 89 per cent said they would struggle to find workers with those skills,” he said.
Mr Langridge was quoting statistics from the recent Chandler Macleod Workplace Barometer report,Organisational Agility: Navigating the Maze, in which managers across a number of industries were surveyed on their company’s ability to weather turbulent economic conditions.
“The resource sector is addressing the skills shortage with contractors and consultants however this won't plug the gap long term," he said.
"A majority of managers said they had increased their number of contract workers over the past five years, however this measure can’t be used in isolation and can lead to greater issues if not managed well.”
Mr Langridge said the report showed companies within the resource sector would continue to struggle to attract skilled workers if they did not improve their start-up packages for potential employees.
“We are finding workers are much more demanding and are looking for a more ‘rounded’ package,” he said.
“In the past the resource sector could get away with offering the bare minimum in regards to conditions, with wages being the main attraction for those just entering the industry.
“Now companies need to be much more flexible with their entry level packages if they want to attract workers with the required skills.
“There is also much less loyalty in the industry with workers constantly on the look-out for better conditions and wages.”
Mr Langridge said resource companies would need to employ a range of measures if they wanted to recruit and retain the best and brightest.
“Obviously we have a massive skills gap in this country and that is going to continue to present issues going forward,” he said.
“But our research shows there are measures companies can employ to fill those gaps.”
Mr Langridge said managing the workplace culture had become increasingly important with 81 per cent of respondents to the Barometer survey saying this had become a major part of their role.
“Companies that do not engage their workforce and address the factors that drive attrition, such as poor management culture, will find it increasingly difficult to retain staff,” he said.
“With the opportunities currently on offer in the resource sector workers simply do not need to put up with anything but the best management practices.
“Companies will need to put a much greater focus on this aspect of their business if they are to retain their workers.”
Mr Langridge said other issues to come to light through the research were:
- A greater need to provide more flexibility in the workplace
- More autonomy for workers
- More emphasis on succession planning in pivotal roles
- Increased opportunities for internal transfers
He said many of these issues were common across most industries but were of particular concern to the resource sector.
“For the mining sector, fly-in/fly-out workforces will continue to dominate the landscape and that brings with it a raft of issues not found in other industries,” he said.
“Companies will need to continually review their offerings including family friendly shifts, better living conditions on-site and improved technology to allow workers to stay in touch with their families and friends.
“There will also be a need for the resource sector to look more closely at those workers who may have transferable skills and accept there will be some re-training required.
“This may well be the difference between a project getting off the ground or not.”
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