Hogsback on the Queensland jobs boom

HOGSBACK reckons jobs are scarce things in sunny Queensland – unless you work in coal mining, in which the good times are already rolling in.
Hogsback on the Queensland jobs boom Hogsback on the Queensland jobs boom Hogsback on the Queensland jobs boom Hogsback on the Queensland jobs boom Hogsback on the Queensland jobs boom
While the state is lagging the rest of Australia with an unemployment rate of 6.1%, the coal mining companies and their recruiters are struggling to fill positions across the whole spectrum of mining.   
Exploration geologists, mining engineers and maintenance professionals including fitters, boilermakers and electricians made the list of the top resources and mining skill shortfalls in Queensland for the first half of 2019, according to the Hays Jobs Report.
The reawakening of Queensland's mining industry over the past 12 months has created strong demand for technical professionals, including mining engineers, geotechnical engineers, geologists and surveyors with underground experience.
The industry's growth has also directly translated into increased demand for professionals within mineral processing, including metallurgists and lab technicians.
Dump truck, drill and process operators have also been highly sought after to keep up with increased production targets.
"Trades such as mechanical fitters, boilermakers and electricians are required to keep on top of the maintenance of fixed plant equipment," the report states.
"Maintenance needs are in overdrive due to current market activity."
As candidate shortages intensify, skilled professionals are aware of the demand for their skills, according to Hays.
Are we about to enter another period such as 2010 when recruitment went into overdrive and people were dropping their day jobs in Brisbane and the Gold Coast to work up at the Bowen Basin?
The excesses of the previous boom created a lot of unsustainable behaviours and attitudes, both by individuals and corporations alike, according to Garry McCure of McCure Consulting.
"The boom was of course followed by the bust, and everyone has a story about the reality of the situation setting in," he said in the February edition of the AUSIMM Bulletin.
"Many professionals are still recovering now. Some left the building and haven't been seen since. As an industry, we are arguably still paying the price now."
McCure said this time seemed different because some mining houses and their recruiters had learnt their lesson.
"Following the last boom, investment in projects and spending in general has been a lot slower and more disciplined; there's not a ‘get it out of the ground at all costs' dogma that we know leads to super-inflationary practices and paying whatever it takes for goods, services and labour," he said.
"It's a slower and steadier ramp-up. It may not be as exciting but surely this slightly more conservative approach is good, and hopefully the inevitable downside to this upswing will be more manageable.
"However, in terms of employment there are some cracks appearing that may threaten the notion of a nice, sensible steady ramp-up."
Hogsback reckons once mines cannot get skilled workers for their operations things may get desperate again and all the lessons from the last boom may be forgotten. 
History may never repeat, but it sure does rhyme.