OPINION: Industry of Opportunity

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New employment figures confirm Queensland’s resources sector is the industry of opportunity for young people looking for rewarding and well-paid jobs.

The number of people starting a resources-related apprenticeship or traineeship in Queensland has risen sharply over the past decade, particularly among women and Indigenous Australians.

The number of young women beginning training is more than three times what it was ten years ago, and First Nations’ people also have significantly higher representation among the total number of apprentices and trainees working in Queensland’s resources sector.

Even more encouraging is the number of people completing their training in our industry and going on to long term careers is now 76 per cent, well above the national average across all industries of around 56 per cent.

It’s even higher for women (85%) and Indigenous people (82%) in Queensland.

Not surprisingly, the majority of women and First Nations’ people are working in the coal industry, which continues to be a significant provider of jobs, particularly for people in regional and remote parts of our state.

The figures are a great reflection on the support and guidance apprentices and trainees are offered by resources companies in Queensland and the work they’re doing to make workplaces more inclusive and diverse.

Ironically, the biggest threat to long term job opportunities for young Queenslanders in resources right now comes from misguided State Government policies which are hampering future investment in our sector.

The international investment community’s concerns over Queensland’s diminished reputation as a place to invest have been further exacerbated by some extraordinary comments by the State’s Treasurer recently. His threat to revoke the mining licences of companies that employ thousands of people and generate billions of dollars for our state’s economy is concerning and will further erode confidence in Queensland’s investment environment.

The State Government must reconsider its snap decision to impose the world’s highest coal royalty tax rates and consult with industry about how to keep our state competitive. This is the only way our sector can continue to provide job opportunities for Queenslanders in the decades ahead.

On the jobs front, the QRC’s educational arm, the Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy (QMEA) in partnership with BHP Mitsubishi Alliance held their first STEM Big Day Out in August.

Delivered over two days in Moranbah and Mackay, the event introduced 260 students from five schools to the diverse career opportunities in resources through science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) study pathways.

It was an outstanding success and we’re now looking to take this initiative to other parts of Queensland and even around the country!

The QMEA and Women in Mining and Resources Queensland (WIMARQ also celebrated an important milestone this month with the fifth anniversary of the highly successful Girls in Resources Life Skills (GIRLS) Mentoring Program. 20 Year 12 students from 17 schools across the state took part in this year’s program, thanks to mentors who gave up their time to support and guide the girls along with our sponsors BHP/BMA, and further support from ConocoPhillips, Coronado, Rio Tinto, Fitzroy, Idemitsu, Jellinbah Group and South32.

The GIRLS Mentoring Program is becoming more popular each year and it’s great to see so many young women showing interest in a career in our sector.

We look forward to celebrating many more anniversaries of the program, which is an important part of our strategy to lift female participation in resources to 30 per cent of the workforce by 2026.

Ian Macfarlane

Queensland Resources Council Chief Executive

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