G & S risk manager Tim Magoffin shared his experiences in training, retaining and sourcing staff in these labour scarce times with International Longwall News.
Magoffin said his company has sought solutions "outside the box" and has concentrated on making its work attractive to prospective and current employees by boosting its HR division, establishing a "buddy" system and working with industry training centres.
He said that with an average workforce of 820, finding skilled tradesmen and project managers was the most difficult task for G & S - with underground fitters the most in demand for the coal maintenance division of the company.
"We are pulling people from all sorts of weird and wonderful places and it does add risk to the business," Magoffin said.
"We run a fluent workforce with a core of permanent labour and we add to that itinerant labour, so for us - given that some of our guys don't ever come into head office - we're trying to ... give people a feel as though they're part of a team."
To create this team environment G & S has an internal training division - which has grown from a crew of four just a few years ago to 10 today - to bring a personalised touch to training and assessing.
"We've made a conscious decision to do as much internal training as we can. We run partnerships with registered training organisations where we can - but we get our own trainers approved to deliver the courses," Magoffin said.
"We find the response is better when the message comes from somebody from within the company wearing the company badge."
G & S has also set up the Inexperienced Worker's Scheme, a buddy program that pairs green workers - or those new to the company - with an experienced worker for a 400-hour period in a bid to transfer training and develop workplace culture.
Boosting that is a mature-age apprenticeship program, whereby workers are given recognised prior learning for their own experience and may have their apprenticeship span reduced. In the 2007 financial year G & S had a total of 50 apprentices on its books across all divisions.
Magoffin said that while the labour drought might plateau in the coming years it is unlikely to see relief, and companies across the board will be forced to continue to re-evaluate their recruitment processes if they want to ride the resources boom.