The Hays Quarterly employment report has shown subdued activity in the mining sector, with the only hope to be seen in gold exploration and production.
With hiring down across the board, there are some gold companies which are driving production forward in Western Australia, however the report indicates that any employment gains made in that sector are being lost to iron ore (most recently with the closure of Atlas Iron operations) which will see more job losses as the year progresses.
Increases in the number of candidates on the market are still being balanced by employers reporting that skill sets do not always match up with role requirements, which indicates an ongoing shortfall in skills.
Hays also reports a trend in employers looking to trade up when hiring, expecting more from the talent pool and looking for more advanced skills sets when filling newly vacated positions.
“So instead of a like-for-like hire, employers are looking to improve on the quality of their staff,” the report said.
However, mass redundancies reported in South Australia are increasing the supply of skilled candidates with mining experience, and the trend is for candidates to use LinkedIn and previous employers to search for new opportunities.
Mining activity is on the decrease in Northern Territory with the mothballing of Western Desert Resources and Territory Iron, and white collar and professional candidate levels are on the increase.
Queensland is seeing demand for candidates ready for an immediate start on short term contracts for DIDO, especially those with current medicals and inductions (coal), and maintenance supervisors with fixed plant experience and mining engineers with ability to improve efficiency are in demand.
Western Australia has increased need for underground electricians to meet demand as gold production ramps up, and residential geologists in Kalgoorlie are in demand.
Maintenance planners are still in high demand, albeit crews are working with fewer members to service the same amount of equipment.
The smaller workforce means strict planning is essential for shutdowns, especially for the tightening iron ore sector which is calling for good planners with strong iron ore process plant experience.
South Australia currently has a shortage of rubber liners due to a lack of training and apprenticeships, as well as interstate work luring away good tradespeople.
SA is also in need of reliability engineers to replace those who seek careers in projects and design.