Jo Studdert’s article on ‘the resourceful use of energy’ to provide future employment makes interesting reading (Weekend Australian Saturday 16/5/2009 Page 6).
As expected mining employment is set to fall sharply over the course of this year and is likely to continue falling for at least another two to three years. Workers in coal, zinc, lead and copper mines, as well as in the property and construction sectors, will be affected as mines are shut down and production cut back but the news is not all grim.
Recruiters and university careers advisers say there are still more jobs in mining and engineering than top candidates to fill them.
Hudson Recruitment’s Neville Andrews says organisations are using the global crisis to streamline their businesses. Many haven’t had a structured view of their talent capability and the crisis has led them to reassess their strengths. Unfortunately some companies have let go top people as well as ones who don’t quite fit. Salaries have plateaued, but not plummeted.
Sentiment in the utilities sector is robust at plus 28.9%, down 0.2 points from the previous quarter, and in NSW in the utilities sector, employer confidence rose nine points to plus 28.6% this quarter as several projects received increased funding.
Andrews also says the thermal coal sector in NSW is strong and goldminers throughout the country are doing well, so the entire mining sector is not under stress.
Contractors and operators in the resource states are the ones under most pressure, but there are robust opportunities in the utilities and energy sectors, and also in defence, especially in South Australia.
Hays, another leading recruiter and researcher, sees strength particularly in the energy and infrastructure sectors. Infrastructure projects are already affecting some states..it’s big in Brisbane, there’s rail in the west, but it’s fairly stable elsewhere as yet.
Hays resources recruiter Simon Winfield also finds strength in infrastructure projects.
Even in mining there is still a shortage of good engineers, but the real action is in oil and gas, where there are more jobs than candidates. He believes gas and oil will take over from mining as Australia’s big employer during the next five years. The Pluto project is picking up and Gorgon has already spent $1 billion in preliminary work. Gorgon will soak up 5000 jobs when it is at its peak.
Renewable energy projects as well as oil and gas also promise enduring engineering employment says Michael Green, director at Bradman Recruitment. Universities – such as the University of Technology Sydney – have introduced specific courses to train people for the sector.
Wind energy is a particularly strong growth area.
Environmental engineers will be the new IT says Darren Hill, a recruiter Bluefin resources. Every company will need to have one. Everyone is watching the emerging carbon economy to see what it will do to employment patterns. Although the billions of dollars promised to the renewable energy sector haven’t started filtering through – it will.
He has also seen an increased interest in engineering consultants to assess and implement performance-enhancement programs.
Renewable energy and, notably, wind turbines demand a range of engineering skills from design and software through to mechanical and electrical, construction and civil engineering, and maintenance. Employment in the sector is growing slowly but steadily and we can’t know just yet what will happen.
The triggers would be the Australian Senate passing carbon trading legislation, what US President Barack Obama does next in terms of environmental policies and the decisions made at the next Kyoto round, which will be held in Copenhagen in late December.
Bluefin’s Duncan Amos also has noticed more demand for people with skills in developing and applying specialist mining and engineering software.