Critical trades such as diesel mechanics - which were once taken for granted by many employers - are now in high demand in the mining industry as a resurgent agricultural sector ramps up after a severe nationwide drought.
Recent National Centre for Vocational Education Research figures show that while apprenticeships across all industries were down 11%, the mining industry only experienced a 1.41% decrease.
This could mean more pinching of qualified tradespeople in the mining sector by other sectors such as agriculture and construction.
The looming skills gap in the mining sector is only going to get more acute and the payscales of mine workers are set for another boost, the likes of which we have not seen the since the earlier part of the past decade.
This is why mining companies must maintain a commitment to apprenticeships and traineeships throughout the commodity cycle.
Minerals Council of Australia CEO Tania Constable said the federal government's decision to extend the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements program for another year was a significant boost for skills across Australia and great news for Australia's mining regions.
Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements provides a 50% wage subsidy to support businesses who employ new and recommencing apprentices and trainees by September 30.
"The broader Australian minerals industry is creating more than 5000 apprenticeships working in partnership with the Australian government through the Mining Skills Organisation Pilot to modernise timely and efficient training of skilled tradespeople for faster outcomes with an initial focus on diesel mobile plant mechanics, an identified pressure point within the industry," Constable said.
Three project hubs in digital transformation, apprenticeships, and attraction and retention are hoped to deliver training to accelerate mining skills development.
The skills project hubs include an apprenticeships hub with an initial goal of at least 5000 apprenticeships with an initial focus on developing content, delivery and assessment models that better align industry need and apprentice knowledge.
The digital transformation hub will seek to speed up delivery of training products for automation and the application of digital technologies, with the goal of integrating existing automation training products into Australia's training package framework
The attraction and retention hub will identify and test strategies that make a career in the industry attractive to those with partial or transferable skills and qualifications by aligning the skills necessary for a successful career in mining with those in other industries through a mining fundamentals skill set.
Hogsback reckons it would be an advantage to both the mining industry and young Australians for them to be able to develop vital skills and trades.
They can be part of a dynamic and growing industry that can offer stable career paths and a good quality of life in the regions.