The parliament committee report, issued last week, highlighted the impact the growth of the mining industry in central west NSW was having on a range of trades.
“The huge sustained demand for black coal in the mining sector has resulted in an increased demand for skilled labour, which is constantly poached from other local industry sectors at hugely inflated wages, simply to meet the export and production demands,” the report said.
The report found skills shortages were particularly severe in the Hunter Valley region, the hub of the state’s mining industry.
“Farm businesses are simply unable to compete with mining companies in attracting labour, and the mining industry has already had a major impact on the rural economy of the Hunter Valley,” a submission from an agricultural college said.
It found qualified tradespeople were accepting higher paying, non-trade jobs in the mines, which was contributing to “skills wastage” among workers joining the mining industry.
The report found the problem was widespread across a range of trades, with construction, electrical, automotive, engineering and food trade workers in high demand.
In its written submission, Central NSW Councils indicated that the mining industry had been the largest contributor to employment growth in the central west over the past 10 years, but was also experiencing skill shortages in underground operations, metal and automotive trades.
The report criticises the State Government for failing to adequately assess the extent of the skills shortage and calls for greater cooperation between the NSW and federal governments to provide regional assistance and improve vocational education.