QMEA school Pioneer SHS students Georgia Hansen, Lacey Jackson, BMA engineer Chelsea Bradshaw and Maddison Myles.
QMEA school Pioneer SHS students Georgia Hansen, Lacey Jackson, BMA engineer Chelsea Bradshaw and Maddison Myles. CONTRIBUTED

Resource hub could be key to Mackay's success

A NEW resource sector job is created every 57 minutes in Queensland.

That's up from the past year, where there was a new resource job created every hour.

Queensland Resources Council chief Ian Macfarlane said the resources sector had created 11,600 jobs - a 21 per cent increase - from the period starting from November 2017 to the end of February 2019.

"The Queensland resources industry is delivering for Queensland - more jobs, more investment, more exports and more royalties for Queensland,” he said.

The Our Future Mackay series has over the past week used demographer Bernard Salt's data report on Mackay to deep dive into the important issues affecting our region.

Employment, specifically in the resource sector, affects everyone in our region.

The data provided in Mr Salt's report shows jobs in the mining sector are well above the national average but education and training lags far behind the rest of the country.

It also shows Mackay is bound to face growing pains when it comes to filling vacant jobs in skilled positions.

Resource Industry Network general manager Adrienne Rourke said the low unemployment rate in Mackay did not tell the full story about employment in our region.

"The flipside to it is there are many jobs in the resource sector, sitting unfilled and businesses are stalled when they should be growing,” she said.

"There is a skilled labour shortage in Mackay. And that is across the board - health care services, professional services, retail and hospitality - everyone is seeing the pick-up in Mackay. We started to notice it within our sector in October 2016 and it has been increasing ever since.”

Future Mackay dinkus
Future Mackay dinkus Contributed

Ms Rourke said skills training was only one small aspect to a more complex issue.

Most of the vacant positions were skilled or trade-based positions which were not roles that could be filled with workers receiving four weeks of training. These are roles requiring degrees or apprenticeships.

Ms Rourke said the medium-term solution needed to come from the state and government. She said the long term goal was government's tangible confidence in the resource sector.

"There needs to be government initiatives put into place to encourage people to move to where the resource sector jobs are and to engage in those communities.”

"Governments need to open basins and fund innovations within the sector to show potential employees that careers in the resource sector were long-lasting.”

Read more on Our Future Mackay

Mackay Regional Council along with the State Government recently put up $3.6million each to fund a Resources Centre of Excellence.

The state-of-the-art METS hub will be erected at Paget and will be a centre for different mining-houses to collaborate, test and drive innovation. It will also house an underground mining simulator that can be used to train the future resource sector workforce.

"This is a game-changing project for our region that will really put us on the map as a METS centre,” Ms Rourke said.

The last piece of the puzzle was creating social infrastructure in the community.

"At the end of the day, retaining and attracting workers meant providing a happy and healthy lifestyle,” she said.

"We are undertaking a video-marketing campaign on social media about Mackay and what it has to offer.”

Mr Salt said there was something he had come across during his travels throughout Australia "called metropolitan chauvinism”

"It's where we're led to believe that capital cities are the repositories of culture and coolness,” he said. "They are also the repositories of unaffordable housing and disheartening commutes.

"I think there is an image problem in regional Australia. There is a public relations exercise that needs to happen and perhaps the State Government needs to effectively communicate how great its regional centres are.”



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