07 September 2006

Australian mining industry desperate for engineers

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The mining industry in Australia looks set to experience a severe skills shortage for years to come, particularly in specialist positions.

Mine contracting firm Allied Coal Services conducted a nationwide recruitment drive which yielded just 80 mine workers with experience and only 25 of those had specialist skills.

In New South Wales' Hunter Valley, an area north of Sydney, the mining industries workforce is getting older and despite attempts to encourage more youngsters to undertake training courses in engineering and trades, fewer workers are entering the industry.

"In the Illawarra the average age of the work force I believe is around about 48 or 49, up in the Upper Hunter it's maybe a little bit less but it would certainly be above 45 to 50," Allied Coal's managing director David Briggs told ABC Newcastle.

"So in the next 10 years it's going to be even a bigger problem."

The Australian mining industry has said it needs about 150 mining engineers to fill current vacancies. Last year there was a total of just 32 graduates across the country.

As a result wages have skyrocketed and the average annual salary for graduates was AU$82,000 and some recent mining engineering graduates have commanded as much as AU$120,000 salaries.

The occupation of mining engineer is on the Australian Government's Migration Occupations in Demand List, which identifies occupations which are part of the country's ongoing national skills shortage.

Candidates for emigration to Australia who have the relevant experience in these occupations are given bonus points towards the Points Test which outlines their eligibility to live and work in the country under the Skilled Migration Program.

Mining engineers are a 60 point occupation and are given an extra 15 points (20 with a job offer) towards their Points Test total.

To see if you qualify to emigrate to Australia, take our free online assessment.

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