The PWC Mining 2023 Report highlighted challenges in attracting new people to the Mining Sector. While it is important to attract more people, significant improvements are required to better utilise the workforce already employed in mining. It's easy to say 'we need more resources,' without looking within to determine whether we are doing enough to reduce waste and inefficiencies associated with the people we already have.

And are we collaborating enough across the mining sector to simplify, standardise and share?

Our recent panel event on Productivity in a Tight Labour Market turned into an engaging and interactive discussion on this topic: do we have a skills shortage or a utilisation issue? 

Here were the key takeaways:

  • We need to better utilise the workers we already have

The national skills shortage is clearly a factor, but it’s critical that effective resource planning takes place ahead of workload peaks. We identified a shortage of competent Planners, with a bottleneck of trainers to up-skill this cohort. Inefficiencies are resulting in untold waste every year. Companies are trying to solve this challenge independently - could industry collaboration and standardisation help here? 

  • There is an opportunity to remove cost and friction from workforce onboarding 

We know inductions are an important part of a holistic workplace safety strategy, alongside competency, robust processes, supervisors etc, but the best workers want to work. Sitting through long inductions, often containing duplicate content and clunky interfaces is demoralising. There’s an opportunity in this - satisfaction and retention can be achieved by reducing 'induction fatigue' by simplifying, standardising and sharing induction content. 

  • Industry-level scheduling would create better outcomes for people AND businesses

A central calendar of key shutdown and turnaround dates is a mature approach with the potential to address multiple issues. Better resource coordination across companies = less sparring over skilled and semi-skilled workers. It would also create job security for workers through continuous rosters throughout the year. There are good examples of coordinated schedules already working. Should local government or a governing industry body be the central, coordinating force? 

  • Listening to workers is key

What does your workforce need to be fulfilled in their roles? Let's acknowledge the shift from employment purely as a financial transaction, to the desire for something more - purpose, flexibility, development. There is value in asking for feedback from your workforce and acting on the responses to keep teams motivated and innovative ideas flowing.  Challenge assumptions on how we have always done things - could you optimise productivity by reducing shift lengths, improving FIFO conditions, or increasing breaks? Companies must analyse the data available to them to answer these questions.

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