Fighting the skills shortage

FIGHTING the battle to keep bums on seats or out in the pits, Australia’s skills council, SkillsDMC, is seeing benefits from its workforce planning programs, which will be showcased at its conference later this month.
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SkillsDMC chief executive Des Caulfield.

Vivienne Ryan

Titled “Tomorrow’s Workforce for Tomorrow’s Workplace” the talkfest on August 20 in Sydney will look at strategies to combat the widespread skills shortage in the midst of a commodities boom.

Targeting the drilling, mining, quarrying and civil infrastructure sectors, SkillsDMC wants to set a direction for employers in the field to combat the constrained skills market, now and in the future.

“With an ageing workforce adding increased pressure to workforce capability, training and development is key to a sustainable workforce,” SkillsDMC chief executive Des Caulfield said.

Caulfield said one strategy included workforce planning and how organisations used existing staff to lift their performance.

Keynote speaker for the conference will be BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance chief executive John Smith who will look at the future of coal mining in Australia.

A diverse range of speakers will include Civil Contractors Federation national CEO Chris White, mining economics commentator Michael Pascoe, CFMEU Mining and Energy Division general president Tony Maher and NSW Mine Safety Advisory Council chairman Norman Jennings.

While the conference will address issues and strategies to combat the labour shortage, SkillsDMC told International Longwall News it dealt with a range of issues beyond skills and labour shortages.

It also looks at maximising the performance of an enterprise.

SkillsDMC has developed a program which forward plans an organisation’s staffing levels and expertise needs.

Pioneered through the coal industry two years ago, the Workforce Manager program gets organisations to look at their staff numbers today and progress that figure out over a number of years in relation to future production needs.

It works to establish the number of skills required now and what will be required in one, two and three years time.

“[We are] trying to manage today from tomorrow,” Caulfield said.

The program initially started in the coal sector and has been extended to include other civil, drilling, construction materials and metalliferous sectors.

Caulfield said the benefits to industry included a more scientific approach to workforce planning which would be discussed at this year’s conference.