New workforce modelling by the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia (CME), has highlighted that an additional 8,000 skilled workers will be needed in Western Australia’s resources sector over the next 12 to 18 months in order to meet peak economic recovery demand.
The preliminary forecast modelling assumes the continuation of COVID-19-related restrictions, including interstate travel, will remain in place through to the end of 2020 and foreshadows a considerable increase in competition for key skills, such as traditional trades and experienced technicians, front line supervisors and maintainers, and safety and medical support services.
CME Chief Executive, Paul Everingham, said the WA resources sector has reaffirmed its commitment to employing locally, where possible, as it looks ahead to these identified additional skilling needs to underpin the post-COVID-19 economic recovery.
“In response to COVID-19, companies moved early and decisively to relocate thousands of their employees and contractors in critical roles to WA, with companies offering incentive packages to make the move permanent,” he said.
“The skills migration to the West brought on by COVID-19 has been nothing short of phenomenal. The vast majority of WA’s interstate FIFO workforce of around 5,000 have made the move west, some individually, others with their families at very short notice prior to the state border closure in April.”
Mr Everingham said many members of the CME’s have also been recruiting for hundreds of skilled roles from within Western Australia over the past few months. These roles are a mixture of regional and Perth-based, including both residential and fly-in, fly-out.
“We’re already seeing high demand in traditional trades and experienced technicians, front line supervisors and maintainers such as heavy diesel fitters, and professional engineers, geologists metallurgists and technology specialists. There is also increased demand for safety, emergency and medical support services in the content of the ongoing COVID-19 response – safety rightly remains our first priority,” he said.
“At a difficult time of high unemployment, the sector recognises the need to employ locally where it is practical to do so. It will be a balance of employing local, enticing skilled workers keen to relocate to WA and ensuring the training system can respond to meet these high demand CME has collaborated with industry experts to examine the sector’s skilled workforce needs going forward.”
The WA resources sector is among the state’s major employers, with a workforce of approximately 120,000 across Western Australia. The sector also indirectly supports many thousands of workers through the more than 14,000 WA businesses that the sector engages annually.
CME’s forecast workforce modelling highlights that an additional 8,049 workers will be required in WA to meet peak recovery demand through to the end of 2020 and into 2021, assuming current COVID-related restrictions remain in place until the end of 2020.
“Our preliminary forecast modelling highlights the potential for more than 8,000 new job opportunities across the resources sector. It also foreshadows a considerable hotting up of competition for key skills in a safe and productive way,” Mr Everingham said.
Furthermore, the CME estimates that only approximately 1 to 2 per cent of the workforce still needs to be sourced from outside of WA under the current COVID-19 operating environment.
“Exceptional reasons still exist for sourcing skills outside of WA, which cannot be simply substituted locally,” Mr Everingham said.
“These roles are often safety-critical and highly technical, and require unique skills or years of experience, often with a particular type of machinery. The risks associated with this type of work require extensive on the job experience to assure the highest standards of safety, including in major hazard scenarios.”