Training and education activity in the minerals sector

Executive summary

The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) commissioned the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) to undertake a study investigating the contributions of minerals operators to training.

The study was commissioned to address the wide-spread belief within the mining sector that the number of apprentices and trainees is underreported. This may be due to some on-site activity being classified under industries other than mining (for example, apprentice chefs under hospitality, site remediation under horticulture). Secondly, mining companies themselves may undertake a substantial amount of training outside of the publicly funded VET system and as such, there is an absence of reliable publicly available data on the level of training being undertaken by the mining industry.

The study found that the minerals sector spent just over $1.1 billion on training during the financial year ending 30 June 2012, equivalent to almost 5.5% of total payroll. Almost 98% of this training expenditure is industry-funded, with only 2% coming from government subsidies.

The approach used in this study was to undertake a survey of on-site training activity conducted by mining companies and associated contractors. Contractors included full service all-in contract miners, as well as on-site contractors (such as those providing above and below-ground extraction, accommodation, catering or construction services to mining operators) and sub-contractors2.

The survey captured training activity in the areas of apprentices and traineeships, nationally recognised training and study (including skill sets), structured training (including safety), and other skill development activities.

Around 40% of all mining operators (excluding contractors) were captured in the survey (as measured by market capitalisation). Two-thirds of iron ore operators and around 50% of all coal and gold operators were captured. However, only a quarter of the remaining commodities were captured in the survey. Oil and gas operators were excluded, as were small companies whose activities were primarily involved in exploration.

Throughout the report, the term ‘total mining’ will be used to refer to all mining operators and contractors working on site. However, the contractors’ responses are not representative of the entire population of mining contractors.

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