According to Deloitte’s Tracking the Trends 2023 report, global statistics show that a significant number of mine workers are 46 and older, and nearly 50% of skilled engineers will retire in the next decade. It’s a perfect storm ahead, considering lower recruitment numbers from younger generations, rapidly changing skills profiles, and projected industry growth over the medium term. The deepening skills crunch is not news to any of us, and it shows few signs of easing, with no fixed end point in sight.
But there is some light on the horizon, particularly for regional Queensland. Last month, just over 133 years to the day, the third School of Mining was officially opened in Rockhampton at CQUniversity. The Bowen Basin Mining Club was represented at the celebration, and we’re delighted to report that this facility is well and truly geared for the mining student of the future and is dialled into the needs of Bowen Basin employers.
What happened to the first two Schools, you may wonder? In her speech at the CQU School of Mining, Kim Harrington, CQUniversity Associate Vice President Rockhampton and Central Highlands Region, explained that Rockhampton’s first school opened in 1904, following political agitation for Queensland to follow in the footsteps of the highly successful Ballarat-based School of Mining. This initial venture lasted less than three years. The second School of Mining was spearheaded by TAFE Queensland in the late 90s.
It’s a skills pipeline that has been many years in development. This newest facility, paired with CQUniversity’s School of Manufacturing in Gladstone, complements the Bowen Basin’s existing training centres, like Mackay’s Resources Centre of Excellence. In the coming years, we expect these centres will be a valuable source of young mining professionals, ready to take their place in the mining industry.
We know the mining professional of the future may look quite different to past or current generations. But the message that needs to be underlined is that a career in resources is a strong and viable long-term proposition – the engineering, technical and managerial skills together with soft skills like communication, decision-making and emotional intelligence that are needed for the resources supply chains of the future are an excellent career choice for young people looking at a 40-year trajectory of work.
Current and future resources businesses in the region will be looking for staff with the relevant, high-quality tertiary qualifications that CQUniversity School of Mining will produce.
At the risk of sounding like a recruitment agency, we’re also reminding readers that the skills gained in the mining industry, from operator to data expert to logistician or manager, are highly transferable to almost any other sector. Forbes commentator Bernard Marr wrote recently that “in-demand skills… will revolve around high-level challenges. Human-centric strengths in leadership, judgement, complex decision-making, collaboration, digital threat awareness, and awareness of ethics, culture and diversity will always be valued.” Sounds very much like any professional-level job description for many mining-related businesses today.
But from our viewpoint, the most praiseworthy point of the new CQUniversity School of Mining is that it is proudly situated in the region where so many people in the mining industry live. The next generation now have a future-focused onramp to mining-related education closer to their families and cultural roots.
Director, Bowen Basin Mining Club