According to the Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA), there is a dearth of skills in the mining industry at the moment. In order to overcome some of the skills gaps that the sector is facing, more effort has been put into recruiting women into the industry. Sometimes, this has been done by encouraging mining firms to attract more women directly into the industry by offering greater flexibility with working packages, for example. In other cases, specialist roles that are conducted by contractors, such as a drilling and blasting contractor, have been identified as being insufficiently attractive to potential female recruits. As a result, both mining companies and contractors that supply services to the industry have made efforts to improve the situation and close the skills gap. What is the industry doing?
Recruiting More Women
On the whole, the fact that under a fifth of all workers in the Australian mining industry, both skilled and unskilled, are female points to issue the industry has traditionally had in attracting women. AMMA claims that the long shift patterns and remote locations that are involved in the industry put some women off. Therefore, they advocate extended maternity leave, on-site housing provision and work patterns that are more geared to the needs of parents as measures that employers can take to make themselves more attractive to female recruits. It is hoped that these and similar measures will mean that women make up a quarter of the mining industry workforce by 2020.
Retaining More Women
In order to keep more women who currently work in the mining industry retained within it, the sector has made considerable improvements. For example, there has been a rise in networks of women in the industry which promote the best practice of employers in the industry and provide training opportunities for females. WIMnet New South Wales, for instance, runs a mentoring programme for females in the minerals sector while WIMnet South Australia promotes student programmes for young women entering the industry. Overall, of course, it is the high levels of pay that women can achieve in the industry that is the key to retention rates improving. Women in specialist mining roles, like a grade control drilling contractor, can earn up to AU$150,000 a year with the right experience. If the industry can retain more women, especially highly skilled ones, then the list of females who are most influencing the sector should become ever more diverse.
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