It is not uncommon for senior school students to be vague about what they might do with their lives once they finish Year 12. After the tension of their final year they will be mainly thinking about socialising and relaxing, then perhaps a gap year.
A short, medium or long-term career in mining has a certain appeal for young people given the stories of easy money, travel and adventure in Australia’s romantic heartland. Indeed for many young people, the mining industry will give them a once in a generation opportunity to build a financial and skill base for their future life.
However, mining is not for everyone – it can be lonely, tough and uncomfortable. It may also provoke fear in parents who are unsure about working conditions and safety. Parents can be assured that all mine sites follow extraordinarily high safety standards and provide living facilities the equal of many universities.
Here are few commonly asked questions:
How many actual jobs are there in mining?
The Australian minerals industry’s rapid growth has led to shortages of skilled professionals, trades people and operators. Despite the current world credit crisis and downturn in the economy, the need for skilled workers remains. In fact, over the next 12 years an additional 86,000 people will be required – over 30% of these will be tradespeople, 30% skilled operators and 10% professionals such as engineers and geologists.
There are limited jobs for unskilled and inexperienced workers.
Where are the jobs?
Most South Australian job opportunities are located onsite in the Far North of South Australia, where many of the mines are located. However not all mines in South Australia are that far away, you will find mines in the Adelaide Hills, Yorke Peninsula, Eyre Peninsula and in the Mid North. Also, all mine sites have a big administration team that are centrally located, usually in Adelaide or the metropolitan area.
What sort of people are best suited to work in the minerals industry?
While the specific skills required vary from site to site, in general, mining companies look for people who:
- Have a positive approach to safety;
- Have a positive, willing attitude and are ready to ‘have a go’;
- Are in good general physical and mental health;
- Are willing to relocate or travel to remote sites and work in sometimes harsh conditions;
- Are ready to learn and gain more skills.
Mining operations around Australia have zero drug and alcohol tolerance.
How old do I have to be to enter the industry?
You have to be over 18 to enter a mine site, but companies prefer to employ people who have at least finished Year 12 or an equivalent vocational or university course, especially in the resources or related industries.
How much can I earn?
Industry salaries can range from $40,000 to $260,000+ depending on experience and qualifications.
Are there jobs for girls as well as boys?
Certainly. Mining companies are continually looking for more ways to attract women to work in the industry and to help them balance the pressures of children and family. Women are highly valued members of any team across the entire industry. The principles of equal opportunity for all employees, regardless of race, sex or physical disability apply across the resources sector and companies promote a diverse working environment free from discrimination or harassment.
Are there jobs for people with no experience?
Yes, but these jobs are very limited. You can be lucky and get a break if you live close to a mining operation and/or know someone working in the industry. But it is far better to get some qualifications and experience first. People with a recently acquired first aid certificate (Apply First Aid) and a pre-employment medical examination, give themselves an added advantage.
What qualifications do I need if I am looking for a skilled, trade or operator position?
- TAFE accredited Certificates – Level III or higher;
- Heavy vehicle (HR) licence and previous experience operating heavy machinery;
General work experience in heavy industry, transport, engineering or building is also useful.
Can I earn some money in my GAP year or on university holidays?
‘Vac Work’ is paid vacation employment for university students. Students from a number of disciplines can apply for Vac Work. If successful, they will not only gain valuable hands-on experience for which they will be paid, but they will also have the chance to build a relationship with a potential employer.
How can parents help students make a choice about mining as a career?
Talk positively about all types of jobs and work in general. Having a good job is self defining and part of every person’s pathway to personal fulfillment and success.
Help them to define what they are good at and what they enjoy – when they’re interested and passionate about something, it’s easier for them to gain the skills required to succeed.
It’s important that your child or student own their decisions. Being ready to make important decisions is a skill in itself – one that requires confidence. Therefore you can support them in the decision making process by making them aware of the impact of their choices and ensure they’ve seen the widest possible range of options.