'Hands off our tradies'
A BUNDABERG tradesman has called on mining companies to train their own apprentices, saying their poaching of skilled workers will push Bundaberg into a trades shortage.
In the past six to eight weeks, Laser electrical Bundaberg has lost about half of its workforce to the attraction of mining pay packets.
Managing director Matthew Kummerow said despite having no staff retention problems previously, in the past few weeks two qualified electricians and two apprentices had left for jobs with the mines.
"In the last few months (the mining companies) have been extremely actively recruiting," he said.
Mr Kummerow said it was always difficult keeping apprentices after they had completed their four years of training, but the mining boom had made it worse.
"We have just come out of a relatively slow period and now we are going to have problems finding staff," he said.
Mr Kummerow said he had placed an ad nationally for the past week and had not had a single response.
He said there was no way he could compete with the salaries being offered by the mines.
"They are offering double what I can - sometimes more," he said.
Mr Kummerow believed this would also have a flow-on effect for those living in Bundaberg.
"I know of other business owners in the same industry who are sick of training staff for them to go off to bigger money," he said.
"They have had so much trouble they have ended up going to the mines themselves."
Mr Kummerow said if the staffing problem continued, he would have to raise wages in order to retain staff.
"That's going to have an effect on what I charge," he said.
He said the business did not start making money out of apprentices until they were fully qualified.
"I think the mining companies need to be responsible for training at least some of their employees," he said.
Member for Hinkler Paul Neville said he understood the frustrations of small businesses losing staff they had trained to the bigger companies. "Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet solution," he said.
"It certainly can't be fixed by legislation or regulation."
But Mr Neville said the larger businesses should have an obligation to share the burden of training tradesmen and women.