A pilot model was designed to create a regional fly in, fly out hub in South Australia in collaboration with the District Council of the southeast region of South Australia.
A total of 611 individual respondents and 44 businesses participated in a survey, and their responses suggested there was a wealth of skilled Australian workers who are being overlooked in the rush to import overseas labour through various visa schemes.
The survey was conducted by the Resource Channel, which said it had identified a number of outcomes as highly relevant to the mining and resource construction sectors.
Results showed 47% of all survey respondents were trade qualified (with the majority of trades suited to both operational and construction project requirements), 34% had relevant operator/driving skills and licenses, and 24% have had experience working in the industry - 9% of those current.
It also said 72% of all respondents indicated they were very interested in FIFO work from the region, with 62% saying they would consider travelling between five and eight hours to reach a site, the maximum time offered in the survey.
Respondents also indicated a preference for working longer stints away, which aligns with construction rosters.
Managing director of the Resource Channel Jody Elliott said respondents cited the ability to do FIFO work without relocating as the most appealing factor of the FIFO Hub Initiative.
“This, together with the age profile and the average number of years in the current industry for survey respondents, suggests there is a significant opportunity for an employer or employers to engage a highly skilled, experienced and stable Australian workforce,” she said.
“The outcome has been a comprehensive report for the region which will very quickly enable employers to assess that the region offers the types of skills they require. Because we also include an analysis of airport and airline capability, it offers a quick, simple and effective option for employers to move in and commence recruitment.
“In the wake of the recent controversy over the importation of thousands of workers via the 457 Visa scheme, it was interesting to identify the number of skilled and motivated workers located in regional areas such as this. I am certain that would be replicated in a number of regional areas across the country.”
She said the model enabled future employees to retain their home base where their families, friends and support infrastructure existed, and at the same time, alleviated pressures on other mining locations already struggling with the supply of housing and infrastructure.
“There is no excuse for employers seeking trade, operator and engineering skills for both construction and operational requirements not to explore the option in the region further, particularly when the alternative touted is to bring in overseas labour,” Elliott added.
She said a copy of the report had been released to the federal government.
This article first appeared in ILN's sister publication MiningNews.net.