Employment & skills


The minerals industry workforce

The minerals industry directly employs more than 200,000 highly skilled, highly paid workers across Australia.  In the decade to 2013-14, the industry experienced among the fastest rates of job growth of all industries.  Though employment is down from peak levels of mid-2012, it remains 15 per cent above the average of the past decade.  The majority of the industry workforce (about 70 per cent) is employed in large enterprises (i.e. those that employ 200 workers or more).  Almost all mining jobs are full-time jobs (97 per cent), the largest proportion of all industries.(1)

Mining produces more gross value added per unit of labour than any other industry in Australia – almost double the second highest industry (the finance sector).  Mining generates around $515,000 for the economy for every worker employed.  Average wages in mining are much higher than in most other industries.  Average (full-time) adult total earnings were $2,569 per week in November 2014, 67 per cent higher than the all industries average.(2)

Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales account for 85 per cent of national employment in mining.  Mining employment is critically important to many regional and remote communities in Australia, with 61 per cent of industry employment in regional and remote areas, compared with 37 per cent for all industries.  Mining accounts for up to 50 per cent of employment in some regional centres.(3)

The minerals industry is also the largest private sector employer of Indigenous Australians with more than six per cent of the industry’s workforce identifying as Indigenous, up from an average of less than one per cent 20 years ago.(4)  At some mining sites, Indigenous workers account for up to 40 per cent of those directly and indirectly employed. MCA member companies have developed a range of strategies aimed at retention and career development for Indigenous employees.

MCA member companies are also focused on improving the gender balance in the industry’s workforce.  Active strategies to reduce structural and cultural barriers that have limited female participation in the industry’s workforce have seen the employment share of female workers increase to around 15 per cent in 2013, from an estimated 9 per cent in 1999, with some MCA member companies achieving to 25 per cent female workforce participation at certain sites.(5)

Skills

A productive workforce needs to be a skilled workforce. The MCA advocates building an uninterrupted, sustainable education and training pathway to increase workforce participation, workforce diversity and workforce skills, regardless of the business cycle in the industry.

The MCA continues to develop and implement national strategies to ensure the adequate supply of skills to the industry and to increase minerals industry labour productivity by:

  • Advocating public policy and institutional capacity building for improved delivery in the tertiary education sector — both the university sector and the vocational education and training sector (VET) — in minerals industry related areas
  • Working with industry and government to build an outputs-based model of VET quality
  • Advocating diverse training opportunities in the minerals sector that suit business and workforce needs, including advanced adult apprenticeships
  • Supporting programs that build a gender and culturally diverse workforce aligned to business needs
  • Demonstrating the extensive education and training (including privately-funded training) undertaken by the minerals industry
  • Providing a definitive national reference point for industry career and employment information
  • Improving community and stakeholder access to information on industry career opportunities and education and training pathways.
  • Along with building industry capacity, there is a need to reduce third-party intervention in minerals sector workplaces. Over the past two decades, direct employer-employee relationships have provided the foundation for the industry’s capacity to meet changing market conditions, with benefits to individuals and communities alike. Against this backdrop, the MCA is:
  • Highlighting the value of a range of work arrangements that suit business and workforce needs, including fly-in, fly-out (FIFO)
  • Supporting the retention of an uncapped temporary skilled migration scheme (457 visas) and reform to the Enterprise Migration Agreement (EMA) scheme to support long-term growth in the industry
  • Supporting reform of the Fair Work Act to ensure Australian workplace laws support flexibility, choice and direct relationships.

Media releases

4 Aug 2015 Time for Serious Debate on Workplace Relations

22 Jul 2015 China Australia Free Trade Agreement: CFMEU Campaign

2 Jun 2015 MCA, BHP Billiton and Downer Award Scholarships to Boost Female Participation in Mining

21 Apr 2015 MCA welcomes “New Arrangements for Training Product Development for Australian Industry”

21 Nov 2014 Minerals Industry's Universities Program Wins Top National Award

Reports and submissions

30 Jun 2015 MTEC Key Performance Measures Report 2015

19 Jun 2015 Submission on the Productivity Commission's Issues Paper 'Migrant Intake into Australia'

15 Apr 2015 Victorian VET Funding Review Submission

27 Mar 2015 Submission to Productivity Commission Inquiry: Australia’s Workplace Relations Framework

4 Mar 2015 Review of Training Packages – Resources and Infrastructure Industry Response

29 Jan 2015 Department of Immigration and Border Protection Visa Review

31 Jul 2014 Submission to Senate Inquiry into Australia’s Innovation System

27 Feb 2014 Parental Leave Toolkit

Mar 2014 MCA Gender Diversity White Paper: Summary document

Jun 2013 MCA Gender Diversity White Paper


(1) Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (AWPA), National Workforce Development Strategy – Mining, Australian Government, 2013.  Throughout this submission, references to ‘mining’ for statistical purposes will in many cases include oil and gas extraction, in line with industry-wide data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
(2) Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE), Resources and Energy Quarterly, September Quarter 2014. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS),  Average weekly earnings, ABS Cat. No. 6302.0.
(3) AWPA, Resource sector skills needs 2013, Australian Government 2013.
(4) B. Hunter, M. Howlett and M. Gray, The Economic Impact of the Mining Boom on Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians, CAEPR, Working Paper 93, 2014.
(5) AWPA, Resource sector skills needs 2013, Australian Government, 2013.