More Women the Answer to Industry Skills Shortage
It’s no secret the Australian resources industry is suffering a severe shortage of skilled workers. Staff
turnover rates for some roles in mining, energy and oil and gas jobs are among the highest in the country.
While employers compete with Canada, South Africa and the USA for professional and skilled workers, one
segment of the current workforce is underutilized.
Women represent 45% of the total Australian workforce, but female participation in the resources industry
is 16%. According to AWRA, the Australian Women in Resources Alliance, that needs to change. Research
has proven companies with women directors perform better than companies without any women on their
boards. From a national perspective, closing the female-male gap would increase the Australian GDP by 11%.
Attracting more women
All sectors of the resources industry have evolved from the days of grimy male-dominated roles. Advances in
technology mean brute strength is no longer a prerequisite for holding down a job in mining. The jobs in
highest demand and hardest to fill – engineers, geologists, and metallurgists – are perfectly suited to
women. But with more women currently graduate from university than men, why aren’t they heading
towards high-paying jobs with oil companies or planning careers in the mining industry?
Unfortunately, there’s no single answer. Perceptions of both men and women need to change concerning
the viability of a long-term career path. While many women enter the industry out of school, having a family
can have a significant impact on a person’s ability and desire to work a demanding job. Add a fly-in, fly-out
(FIFO) roster to the mix, and many women believe it’s too hard to balance career and personal life for a
Australia enjoys one of the healthiest economies in the world owed, in part, to the massive contribution
from the resources industry. Unemployment is at an all-time low. Industry leaders believe attracting more
women is a key strategy for solving the skills shortage.
AWRA’s goal to increase the number of of women in the resources, allied services and construction sectors
provides employers with two major competitive advantages – a larger pool of talent to draw upon and
strength through workforce diversity. AMMA is spearheading the AWRA initiative but it’s a true
collaboration of key stakeholders including industry associations, academia, training, government and
It’s not an easy task to affect cultural change but perceptions are shifting. Salaries for Australian engineers
are the highest in the world. A female engineer can easily support a family on a single income allowing her
partner to take on childcare duties. Industry is focusing on family-oriented solutions to help women remain
in the workforce.
Early indicators are promising. New mining camps are being created with a co-ed workforce in mind. Existing
workplaces are being modified to make them more appealing to female workers. Traditional boundaries are
falling away and men are being widely accepted as primary caregivers. The result is a win-win situation for
industry and women.
For more industry information and for the latest oil jobs please visit www.miningoilandgasjobs.com