The Australian mining industry spent almost $1.15 billion training people for work in the last financial year, the first comprehensive study of the sector's contribution to vocational education shows.

A study by the highly-respected National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) reveals that the industry employs about 11,000 apprentices and trainees across Australia; and spent $1.147 billion on training in 2011/12.

Over recent months, there has been a campaign to characterise the minerals sector as a large user of temporary skilled migrants who are being employed in lieu of attracting and training Australians.

The NCVER study kills these claims stone dead. It torpedoes the notion that the minerals industry is not seeking to attract and train Australians for work.

The study shows that the industry’s education and training budget is very significant while data from the immigration department shows the sector’s use of 457 visa holders – which make up 2.6 per cent of the mining workforce – is declining.

The NCVER’s other findings include that:

  • The mining industry spends 5.5% of total payroll on training expenditure, five times relevant government training benchmarks for the employment of 457 visa holders and the defunct one per cent national Training Guarantee Levy.
  • Apprentices and trainees make up around 5% of the workforce of total mining.
  • Around 20% of all apprentices and trainees are reported as being mature-aged (greater than 21 years old).
  • Female apprentices and trainees comprise around 15% of all apprentices and trainees, with the iron ore sector employing around 20% female apprentices and trainees.
  • About 13 per cent of apprentices and trainees are indigenous Australians.
  • Apprentices and trainees are paid an average of $39,395.
  • About 75 per cent of mining operators offer at least one form of national recognised training to their employees.
  • Nationally, about 80 per cent of total mining employees participated in structured training.

The report is available here.