A new report by IBISWorld shows that mining has reached the bottom of the downturn and has begun its recovery, and that the major commodities have across the board seen a revival in fortunes.
While it will take some time for this to flow through into the recruitment market, it is a positive sign of things to come for candidates.
For now, in New South Wales we continue to see a focus on temporary recruitment as employers still value workforce flexibility. There have been pockets of activity in construction as organisations once again hire staff on a temporary basis for the duration of a project.
However the recruitment process remains lengthy, and this can lead to employers losing out on their preferred candidate who secures another role elsewhere. Already candidate levels have started to decrease in New South Wales as people move into other industries, and as this continues employers will need to speed up their process.
Queensland’s Mt Isa market is steady, although employers are only offering residential roles and will not consider or offer FIFO.
In the Bowen Basin temporary vacancy activity in the area of operations has increased as new trucks and machines are brought to sites and therefore employers require more staff to hit production targets.
We are now also seeing short-term contract opportunities extend into ongoing opportunities for candidates once they have proven themselves. Contract rates have increased slightly and are expected to now stay stable for the rest of the calendar year.
Employers in Queensland are prepared to looking outside their normal catchment area and hire candidates with a fresh set of eyes and ideas to improve processes and strategies.
In South Australia most mining companies are still in the cost saving and consolidation phase and like most other states are hiring temporary staff to cover peak workloads. Companies are also looking for part-time local employees to eliminate FIFO costs.
In Western Australia employers are focusing on recruiting for essential roles, statutory positions and production-focused jobs. We are seeing a trend towards contract to permanent recruitment as companies take advantage of the available labour pool to trial a candidate and ensure they are the best fit before offering them a permanent role. However despite the perceived large pool of candidates, roles that are highly specialised and are required for safe production are still relatively skill short.
Given that employers are focusing on like-for-like or upgraded skills, this shortage of specialised candidates has lengthened the recruitment process.
There are also some new jobs in Western Australia in start-up mines that are recruiting completely new teams. These mostly include small-scale gold projects.
Across the country we’re seeing a focus from employers on cultural fit, which now often ranks as important as professional experience and qualifications. This is even the case in the temporary market as employers want people who will fit into the existing team dynamic.
This is a stark contrast to three years ago when most employers were hiring who was available, sometimes at the expense of cultural fit.
In terms of skills in demand for the July to September 2015 quarter, we’re seeing high demand in New South Wales for Plant Mechanics to work on equipment that requires maintenance in the Hunter.
Boilermakers are also sought due to the increase in fabrication work across the Hunter.
Experienced SMP Supervisors are needed to work on a number projects in northwest NSW.
In Queensland demand exists for dual trade Diesel Fitters and Auto Electricians rather than people with only one trade. Commercial Electricians are sought to work on fixed plant and commercial projects. Belt Splicers and site inducted Trades Assistants are needed too.
Also sought in Queensland are Analysis & Improvement Engineers. There is a strong industry focus on engineers with a higher level ability to analyse current performance, issues and opportunities and determine how they can be improved to reduce costs in maintenance and production.
Business Process Coaches are also needed to update and correct information in systems and train others on best practice. This ensures the continual improvement of systems use, data input and therefore efficiency across maintenance, and reduces costs.
Master Data Specialists are in demand for system information upgrades and analysis in order to improve data integrity and ensure accuracy when reporting performance and making future predictions.
Process Engineers are sought thanks to the focus on improving production output and efficiency.
Maintenance Improvement Specialists are another area of demand. These candidates are wanted to improve maintenance strategy and planning to align a company’s various sites so that they all operate under best practice.
Pre-strip and multi-skilled operators, predominantly Truck Operators CAT 793, 797s, Dozer D10 and 11 Operators, and Graders 16H&M and 24H&M, are in high demand as mines receive new equipment and require more people to operate machinery and hit production targets.
Shot firers and Drillers are also needed in the busy drill & blast area.
In South Australia, Reliability Engineers are in high demand. Most South Australian mining organisations want to save costs and ensure maximum productivity and are therefore looking for good Engineers to decrease downtime and increase output.
Shut-down Planners are needed for contract roles. Due to cost cutting contract Planners are required.
Electrical Engineers with HV and underground experience are sought. A major project is still heavily investing in its underground expansion, and this includes upgrades to current underground infrastructure and equipment, which increases power supply and thus demand for these Engineers.
South Australia has a shortage of Rubber Liners as there is no formal training school for this skill set in this state.
Crusher Fitters are also needed but specialist candidates who can carry out major crusher rebuilds are in short supply. The pool of candidates predominately only has general fitting skills.
In Western Australia we’re seeing high demand for Rubber Liners / Belt Splicers with experience. There is a shortage of suitable candidates since there is not a trade certificate for this role and therefore people with experience are needed. In addition, the role requires heavy use of toxic adhesives, and this detracts a lot of people.
Industrial Painters/Blasters are also in high demand. Employers want candidates with XM Plural experience, which is a relevantly new technology.
Underground Electricians are needed too. Gold production has increased thanks to the recovery of the gold price. However a large percentage of Western Australia’s Electricians went overseas for work or transferred into other industries during the downturn, which has led to today’s shortage of suitable candidates.
Gold Field Assistants are another area of demand. This is also the result of the improved gold price, and higher budgets for exploration. Field Assistants are employed based on their experience, however again many candidates have moved into other industries.
In terms of candidate trends, people are increasingly on LinkedIn and social networking sites. They are also seeking assistance from recruiters and professional resume writers to develop comprehensive CVs. That’s because candidates with detailed CVs that profile their specific experience and achievements progress further through the recruitment process since hiring managers now thoroughly review CVs before short-listing for phone interviews.
Candidates are also asking for interview advice in order to improve their prospects.
Candidates are also willing to commit to short-term contracts and are then securing long-term work after proving themselves.
In Queensland candidates are now proactively going to Mt Isa when looking for their next role. They are no longer waiting for the work to come to them. Once they are in town they can start work at short notice. There’s also a steady movement of candidates looking to come back to Queensland from Western Australia.
Candidates are looking for organisations that provide long-term job security.