Mining juggernaut slows but new skills are in demand

Operations such as the QCLNG at Curtis Island are creating specialist skill sets not commonly seen in Australia.
Operations such as the QCLNG at Curtis Island are creating specialist skill sets not commonly seen in Australia. Brenda Strong

THE first phase of the mining boom is over. The latest Deloitte Access Economics report believes so, at least.

With commodities prices having retreated substantially from the highs of 2011, Deloitte believes the continued sky-high levels of investment will slow, as the sector moves deeper into its construction phase.

The construction leg of the mining boom - which accounts for about 46% of all project investment - will peak in early to mid-2014, according to Deloitte's latest Investment Monitor report.

While investment might slow, the continued construction phase will underpin employment.

Vern Wills, CEO of Site Skills Training, said $250 billion in committed investment in Australia, was largely being driven by projects in Queensland and Western Australia.

"The QCLNG, GLNG and APLNG projects, all operating in the Gladstone region, have a committed investment value of approximately US$58.9 billion," Mr Wills said.

"These projects combined are nearing peak workforce for the construction phase, averaging 6000 workers a project but is potentially nearing an aggregate 19,300 persons.

"For these projects alone there are three components of construction - the gas pipelines reaching up to 520km moving CSG from the Bowen and Surat Basin to Gladstone's Curtis Island, the CSG-to-LNG processing facilities on Curtis Island which convert the CSG to LNG for shipping, and associated development infrastructure including port facilities, storage facilities and supporting infrastructure works."

Mr Wills said the growth in the CSG and LNG industries was creating demand for skill sets that previously haven't existed in the Australian employment market.

"These projects are competing with similar projects in the West and the Northern Territory. There are specialist skill sets not commonly seen in Australia, such as side-boom operators in the construction of gas pipelines," he said.

"This is consistent with our belief that Australia is not facing a people shortage, it is facing a skill shortage.

"Further, Skills Queensland has pointed to an ABS report outlining an expected 19,000 mining and 2000 oil and gas replacement jobs to occur annually across Australia, largely due to an aging workforce and poor retention rates for remote work locations.

"Peaking investment means we are facing slowing but ongoing investment into industries delivering multi-decade projects which are dependent on local supporting services such as training, with new workers being constantly needed due to attrition and an aging workforce."

Topics:  employment jobs jobs news

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