Queensland Faces Escalating Skills Crisis

08 Sep 2011


Queensland’s booming resources industry is creating a critical skills crisis for the state, as billions of dollars worth of new LNG and mining projects continue to come on line. 

The state has recently attracted massive LNG projects from Origin Energy, Santos and QGC. There are plans for up to $60 billion worth of new coal mines in the Galilee Basin, while the Bowen Basin has attracted $4 billion in investment from mining giant BHP Billiton and Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) for the planned Caval Ridge coal mine.

The latest quarterly assessment of the job market by recruitment firm Hudson shows that Queensland's mining sector is expected to create 140,000 jobs over the next two years, but larger projects continue to be hampered by severe labour shortages.

Mining currently has the highest unfilled jobs rate in the country, with 3.6 vacancies for every 1,000 people employed. The state's largest mining company, BHP Billiton, says it has employed 1,500 people so far this year, but still has a further 750 job vacancies at its BMA Bowen Basin coal mines.

The Queensland government has come under growing pressure from mining companies to allow more fly-in/fly-out (FIFO) numbers for new projects, with BHP Billiton now granted conditional permission to fly in up to 100% of the 500-strong workforce required for its Caval Ridge coal mine near Moranbah.

Under current state regulations, 30% of the workforce must be sourced locally.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh is also pushing Canberra to introduce a new three-year working visa for international graduates in areas of skill shortage. The move already has support from the states and territories.

“Australia is… facing a looming skills crisis," Ms Bligh said in a statement. "We shouldn't be discouraging young, enthusiastic workers who are keen to fill these roles."


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