Something must be done to let the next generation know of the exciting career opportunities that are developing as mining embraces automation through the innovation of new technology. Already, well-known Australian universities with world famous mining engineering schools are predicting a desperate shortage of mining graduates in two years’ time as mining engineering enrolments abated during the downturn.
This is also partly due to all the bad press mining and coal have been getting lately.
School age teenagers are bombarded with anti-coal messages on TV and social media and this is shaping their career aspirations.
They all want to be climate scientists or environmental activists. Longwall mining engineer is probably low on their list.
However, this is a real shame because young people – including a growing number of young women that have completed their training and are now in the field or underground – are gaining a lot of enjoyment. They are also being handsomely remunerated.
The Minerals Council of Australia director of Workforce, Health, Safety, Environment and Communities Gavin Lind said the next generation should be made to see the advantages of pursuing science, technology, engineering and maths disciplines.
In its submission to the Optimising STEM Industry-School Partnerships: Inspiring Australia’s Next Generation Issues Paper, the MCA urged the STEM Partnerships Forum to support the Productivity Commission’s recent recommendations for reform across the Australian education system in its final report to the Council of Australian Governments’ Education Council.
These recommendations included ensuring a focus on skills formation, the development of foundational skills and introducing incentives to focus on student learning outcomes.
These reforms will underpin an open, high-quality education system able to prepare people with the right skills for technology adoption, use and diffusion.
The MCA-administered Minerals Tertiary Education Council has provided more than $50 million in funds to collaborative initiatives at 17 universities across Australia – helping approximately 4500 graduates.
More than 200,000 high-paid, high-skilled professionals and tradespeople are employed in Australia’s minerals industry, mostly in regional and remote Australia. The sector employs more geologists, geophysicists, industrial and mechanical engineers, metallurgists and physicists than any other industry.
There are sound career reasons for Australia’s youth to be part of an industry like mining that needs to innovate and that needs greater diversity.
Hogsback reckons industry leaders have made tentative steps to encourage youth from around the country but more needs to be done to make mining a career of choice.