The changing fortunes of the resources and mining sector are well known and this quarter we are seeing candidates adopting new strategies to stay in constant work.
The sector remains optimistic but pragmatic. The recruitment cycle is now a great deal longer than in previous months even for temporary assignments. Saying that, this quarter will see a solid volume of temporary assignments commence and we expect a steady flow of temporary positions to continue until the end of financial year.
We see a signs of recovery for this quarter now that many companies have completed restructures including mass redundancies. Most companies reduced their workforce by over 50 per cent last quarter and will need contingent workers when taking on a new contract. South Australia has a strong supply of mining candidates so the uptick in demand for contractors can be met quickly when needed although we expect many candidates will travel outside the state to take up suitable opportunities.
Temporary contracts in gold mining companies dominate the Western Australian recruitment market and this will continue at least until employers assess their maintenance budgets. Gold employers are taking on new recruits on a temporary basis for short-term projects although there is some permanent recruitment.
With gold a stable commodity electricians are staying in their roles in WA creating a shortage of available experienced gold electricians. Employers are using temporary labour to backfill permanent vacancies rather than committing to permanent contracts.
All-round Operators are in demand but production teams are very specific about the types and number of licenses they require from their workers. The use of good, qualified all-rounders allows them to operate with a smaller workforce and thus save money.
We have been encouraging employers to consider permanent recruitment rather than temporary or temporary-to-permanent contracts for candidates in highest demand as many value stability above salary when looking for a new role. A good example would be experienced Process Technicians with gold experience and nationally accredited tickets as they are in very short supply.
Skills in demand
In terms of skills in demand over the January to March quarter, we are seeing demand for several specialist roles in Queensland. These include Continuous Improvement Specialist – Mining, Continuous Improvement Specialist – Processing and Reliability Engineers.
Queensland employers are also looking for Control Room Operators, Dragline Operators and Drill Fitters in specialised areas.
In Western Australia gold mining companies are looking for Heavy Diesel Fitters, Electrical & Instrumentation (E&I) Technicians, Electricians and Mine Geologists. Fixed Plant Electricians are also in demand but short supply for gold mining roles.
Gold experienced Geologists/Field Assistants are in high demand in Western Australia. This is a consequence of the stable commodity price and gold producers increasing their exploration budgets. We have also seen an increased need for Mine Geologists.
Experienced Process Technicians with gold experience and nationally accredited tickets are in short supply for temporary roles in WA.
In South Australia, Maintenance Engineers are needed to increase the production and reliability of mining plants.
Rubber Liner candidates remain rare but are needed for regular preventative plant maintenance. Likewise, Belt Splicers are in short supply but regular demand for preventative maintenance.
In New South Wales, there are limited opportunities within the coal sector however we have seen an increase in roles across Central NSW for candidates with hard rock experience. Casual Dump Truck and Excavator Operators are still required for larger coal mining sites however positions are competitive.
In Queensland, candidates who tailor their resumes to each specific job application and target jobs well matched to their previous experience are securing work. Other candidates are taking a risk and accepting short-term opportunities and finding themselves in ongoing contract work.
In Western Australia candidates are becoming more flexible regarding the roles they will accept even when that means taking a pay cut or a role at a lower level than their last role. For example, Supervisors and Superintendents willing to work on the tools in temporary roles to keep their skills and tickets up-to-date.
We are also seeing Belt Splicers arriving from South Australia lured by the higher earning potential on offer.
Meanwhile in South Australia we have seen a decrease in the number of candidates on working holiday visas and a greater desire from other candidates to choose a role based on its potential for long term stability rather than salary level.