Rio Tinto highlighted the situation when it recently launched its campaign to get 6000 workers.
However, it is also trying to make sure it can grow its own workers in Australia.
The company signed a $3 million partnership with the University of Western Australia to help it create a sustainable supply of graduates and expertise for the mining industry.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, university and resource sector leaders are working to find ways to train enough science and engineering graduates to meet the sector’s needs.
This came after the Queensland Resources Council released its Growth Outlook Study, which forecast the need for up to 40,000 more skilled workers in the sector by 2020.
QRC chief executive Michael Roche said it had become obvious Queensland did not have enough young people coming through its high schools and into higher education with the skills and knowledge across science, technology, engineering and maths.
“Furthering STEM education in our schools to ensure a continued pipeline of young talent equipped to take on the many and varied opportunities available to them in the resource sector will require a coordinated and concerted effort by government, industry and educators,” Roche said.
“There is no simple answer to the skills challenge and we must be conscious of the timelines and constraints that dominate planning for major resource projects, driven by competition to supply global demand.
“If Queensland doesn’t find the right people with the right training to make the most of these opportunities than they will pass us by.
“The conclusion is obvious – we must act now to implement short and long-term solutions for the skills shortages we’re facing.”
Recommendations from a recent QRC-facilitated industry-educator forum included closer collaboration on furthering STEM education in schools, attracting more females into non-traditional roles such as in science and engineering, and the up-skilling of the existing workforce through continuing professional development and education.
The forum also received a briefing on the soon to be released Smart Engineering State study headed by Queensland government special adviser Professor Graham Schaffer.
Back in the west, the Rio Tinto-UWA partnership is the first in the major miner’s Global Education Partnerships Program.
The program is aimed at establishing a worldwide network of leading universities to generate and foster an appropriate expertise base for the resources industries.
The UWA partnership will be built around a series of education-related initiatives, including a strong scholarship framework that will provide more than 40 students support and access to mining related education.
The scholarship framework also aims to encourage more female, international and indigenous students into these study areas.
This story first appeared on ILN's sister publication MiningNews.net.