South Australia’s resources sector to face skills shortage

Shrugging off forecasts for higher unemployment throughout the country, South Australia’s resources sector is set to boom and the only thing that could hold it back is a shortage of skilled workers.

According to the Resources and Engineering Skills Alliance (RESA), the local economy will need 35,000 mining jobs in the next 16 years. These jobs are in addition to the 15,000 already employed in the state at mines such as Kingsgate Consolidated’s (ASX: KCN) Challenger gold project.

RESA’s Phil De Courcey said, “The precise data is being finalised but there is no doubt South Australia can look forward to a strong growth of mining-based employment across three spheres of supply chain companies, developing mines and operational mines.”

Some of the developing mines include BHP’s (ASX: BHP) Olympic Dam and Arrium’s (ASX: ARI) Hawk’s Net.

In the next five years there will be an acute shortage of roles such as crusher and dragline operators, laboratory assistants, underground and open cuts miners, mobile plant and process operators and exploration drillers. Mr De Courcey said the shortage in these roles was a result of projected needs in the near future: “Hopefully there won’t be skill shortages, but there will always be particular occupations and skills that are going to be demand.”

The decision by BHP to expand its Olympic Dam project ignited concerns that the state will need more skilled workers. The government is expected to release the results of a study which shows a year-by-year comparison of different types of jobs the industry will demand up to 2030.

Foolish takeaway

Although South Australia’s resources sector is dwarfed in comparison to Western Australia’s level of mining employment, hopefuls could now possibly look to the state for a number of new jobs. Universities and Vocational institutions are already showing initiatives to get more people qualified but a number of jobs will still be in high demand, particularly in the far north and Eyre Peninsula.

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Motley Fool contributor Owen Raszkiewicz does not have a financial interest in any of the mentioned companies.  

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