The mining boom may have slowed, but it's not over, the Golding Industry Conference has been told.
The mining boom may have slowed, but it's not over, the Golding Industry Conference has been told. AAP

It's all go in the west

THERE'S plenty happening in the West, for those willing to take on the challenge and make the move.

The value of Western Australia's mineral and petroleum industry reached a record high of $107 billion in 2011 - an increase of 16 per cent over the previous year - with the Australian Mines and Metals Association predicting a further 83,000 workers will be required by 2015.

Reg Howard-Smith, Chief Executive of the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia shared his thoughts on the growth of the mining and resources sector, and what it means for job seekers in the eastern states.

"In a city like Perth with its substantial urban sprawl and a state as vast as Western Australia, it's not uncommon to travel long distances to get, well, anywhere.

"In the resources sector, long distance commuting has manifested into Fly-in, Fly-out and had its beginnings during construction of the iron ore mining and shipping facilities in the Pilbara in the 1960s and 70s.

"At the most basic level, FIFO is about providing choice for workers.  In a competitive labour market, employee choice is paramount.  Choice of what job they do, who they work for and importantly of where they choose to live. 

"In the next few years, the vast majority of FIFO workers in WA will be involved in construction of new resource projects. 

"The construction phase is relatively short (1-2 years) so it is unreasonable to expect people to move themselves and in many cases their families to small and remote towns for such a limited time.

"Current planned projects suggest an additional 34,000 workers in 2012/13 in the Pilbara region, declining to an additional 21,000 in 2015.

"The Mid West will require an additional 7,500 workers during this year and into 2013, experiencing the highest labour force growth rate of any region.

"Industry is very supportive of viable, liveable communities and focuses on improving the regions in which they operate however construction work is short-term and expecting workers to take up permanent residence in regional towns is unrealistic.

"Despite the obvious economic prosperity, WA hasn't been too good at attracting people from interstate to work in the resources sector.

"The latest ABS data shows in 2011, WA's population grew by 67,420 persons to more than 2.3million with net overseas migration contributing 58 per cent, natural increase contributing 29 per cent while interstate migration managed just 12.5 per cent.  

"CME contributed a submission to the Federal Government's inquiry into FIFO, highlighting the key areas of choice, demand for skills, labour mobility and use of regional hubs, in support of the work practice.

"We are yet to see any recommendations from the FIFO inquiry however with over $200billion worth of resources projects either committed to or underway and the demand for skilled workers increasing, FIFO will continue to play an important part in attracting and retaining workers. 

Learn more online: visit the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia website



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