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Money Mining industry ramps up efforts to recruit school leavers amid skills shortage

06:15  10 july  2018
06:15  10 july  2018 Source:   msn.com

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a man in a yellow shirt© Provided by ABC Business A school holiday program is aiming to inspire a new generation of mining experts amid a skills shortage in the industry.

Students from across Queensland made the trip to Mount Isa to work with specialist staff, like engineers and geologists, from the city's long-established mine.

Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy project manager Daniel Rea said the program was about exposing potential specialists to an industry they may not know about.

"We look for their aptitude around those maths and science subjects, knowing that they're going to need a bit of technical expertise," Mr Rea said.

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A school holiday program aims to inspire a new generation of mining experts amid a skills shortage in the industry . abc.net.au.

The Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy's trade camp tested the mettle of secondary school students.

"A recent study has shown that a lack of knowledge is the reason why students aren't choosing to go into these mining specialties — not so much that they don't want to."

a man in a yellow shirt© Provided by ABC Business This skills shortage has been flagged as a major challenge for the mining industry, with the Minerals Council of Australia predicting only 50 engineering graduates — nation-wide — in four years' time.

Brisbane-based secondary school student Maggie May, who took part in the holiday program, said she was not sure if she would target the mining industry.

"I've always liked studying science at school so my teacher really encouraged me to apply," she said.

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"I wasn't really looking at mining, I was just looking at engineering in general but I think it's a good experience to try out different areas of engineering."

Competitive employment market

The copper and zinc markets had reached record highs in recent years and several mines in north-west Queensland had been brought into production.

Glencore's chief operating officer for North Queensland copper assets Matt O'Neill said the increased demand for mining staff was a positive for the community, but it did make recruitment tough.

"It's almost 100 per cent employment in the mining industry again so if we're looking for a geo-mechanic or a mining engineer, it's highly unlikely that they're sitting here unemployed," Mr O'Neill said.

"We're not just competing with mining companies, we're competing with technology companies and a lot of other people.

"I don't see it changing in the short term but it will be a challenge for us for the remaining couple of years."

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Local students watched for trades

Alongside the engineering camp was a trades camp for senior students from Mount Isa and Cloncurry.

The students split up into groups and transformed broken push bikes from the local police station into motorbikes, under the watchful eyes of Glencore's tradespeople.

While the bikes were well decorated and kicked up plenty of dust on the Mount Isa oval, they were judged on the process the teams went through.

QMEA project officer Kym Frost said while upgrading pushbikes was not a mining job, it was an engaging way to test the students' skills.

"It's just a matter them using the mechanical skills plus the expertise from the mentors to be able to complete the project by the end of the week," Mr Frost said.

"It's really about workmanship and their attention to detail — and the opportunity these guys have got to work with the mentors for a week."

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