Published on July 22, 2014
Status of Australian Mining Engineering education and graduate supply/demand issues Bruce Hebblewhite School of Mining Engineering, UNSW Presentation to 12th Longwall Conference, 2013 (15 October, 2013, Hunter Valley, NSW)
• Human resource, or human capital is vital for a sustainable mining industry, both quality & quantity - across all skill categories and professions - mining engineers are but one of the sectors, but an important one Human Capital – the crucial ingredient
The Future Mining Engineer It is important to continually review education programs to ensure education curricula match desired industry graduate attributes. In the future, these could include: • Good enabling scientific principles & engineering design skills • Sound technical mining engineering knowledge • Ability to deal with uncertainty and ambiguity in design & management • Good communication skills at all levels • Understanding of risk assessment principles & management • Ability to live and work in remote, non-urban locations
The Future Mining Engineer (cont’d) • Capable of dealing with, and adaptive to change • Commitment to value-adding and continuous improvement • Understanding of principles of remote control and automation, as applied to mining systems; and ability to manage specialist staff in these and related IT fields • Thorough understanding of, and commitment to HSEC principles; cultural responsibilities; and their implications for sustainable mining practices • Global consciousness and awareness in terms of all of above attributes – including development of indigenous human resources & related cultural considerations; plus multi-lingual communication skills.
How many is enough? –No one knows! How many are we delivering? – prior to 2013 - not enough!! – in last 6 months - too many!! Mining Engineers for Australia - future quantity?
Industry demand – 5 years ago
Skills shortage 2006 study by Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) indicated a need for 70,000 additional personnel to meet growth in Australian minerals industry from 2005 to 2015 This figure did not include numbers to cover retirement/exit replacements Since this study, we saw a very temporary GFC impact in 2008/09, followed by another boom, and hence demand that was even stronger than before – at least until 2012/13!
Australian mining boom – on again, but did it ever stop? Source: Sydney Morning Herald, 19 Nov, 2010.
Projected employment growth (Australian minerals industry): 2005 – 2015 (Source: Minerals Council of Australia (2006)) Personnel Category No. of Persons Labourer 6,378 Semi-skilled 22,059 Tradespersons 26,983 Technical staff 4,153 Professional staff 7,660 Managers/admin staff 2,930 TOTAL 70,163
Projected Australian employment growth, by sector: 2005-2015 (source: MCA(2006))
From that MCA study, the national demand for graduate mining engineers was estimated to be approx. 450/year to cover growth and retirement replacements. During the period 2000-2006, the university sector was criticised for not delivering enough graduates, and not responding to the needs of industry, so…..(see later, we responded)
National supply-demand figures for Mining Engineers 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 450 500 200220032004200520062007200820092010201120122013 Demand Supply
International mining graduate supply data to 2012 (source: Langefeld, Society of Mining Professors, 2013)
• For the period 2000 – 2007, industry (through MCA primarily) estimated the national demand to be 200 new graduates/year – to cover growth and retirement replacement • This was increased to 250 in 2007, and then to 450 in 2011 (source: Ian Smith, MCA Chair) • But now, all we know is that across the country, 2013 graduates are not being offered enough jobs, so demand has fallen below the supply level to ??? Demand – Basis of figures
• In 2004, in response to the significant gap between supply and demand, and following a landmark review called “Back from the Brink”, Mining Education Australia (MEA) was formed. • MEA was a national JV initiative to offer a common curriculum across the three (now four) major mining universities – aimed at addressing both quality and quantity of graduates Mining graduate supply
MEA Mining Curriculum (3rd & 4th years)
Australia now has eight different universities providing mining graduates • UNSW • UQ • Adelaide • Curtin (WASM) • Wollongong • Ballarat • UWA • Monash (commenced in 2013) Is this smart? Why so many? Current supply providers
• Since 2007, MEA has significantly closed the gap between supply and demand, as at 2012, producing over 85% of Australia’s graduates. • The providers, and MEA in particular, have kept their side of the bargain, in delivering what was asked for, but? The supply side
As an aside ….. Some UNSW Mining student data
UNSW Undergraduate Student Numbers (S2, 2013) 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 1st Yr Other yrs -50 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 200220042006200820102012 Total % change New student intake Total student numbers
In addition to the undergraduate pipeline, there is an alternate pathway into a professional career in the mining industry through postgraduate study
UNSW Mining Eng total student population – undergraduate and postgraduate 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 Total Undergraduate Postgraduate
35% 55% 10% UNSW graduate destinations: Employment sector (2005 - 2011) Coal Hardrock Other
So up until 2013, supply has been strengthening and has finally reached the earlier industry demand targets But now the game has changed: • graduates cannot get jobs • There are limited vac work jobs for students • There are virtually no scholarships for new students
You cannot turn the graduate tap off, and expect to be able to turn it back on as soon as things pick up, and have an instant flow of graduates again - It just won’t happen - In 4 years time, industry will be knocking our doors down demanding graduates, but…where will they be?
Education must be viewed as a long-term pipeline requiring strategic commitments, through peaks and troughs Education is not just another service supply market
• Students have to be recruited from high school • They read the media stories and are turned away in droves, under the impression that the mining boom is over, so there is no career in the mining industry • They also hear about no industry scholarships available, so maybe the industry has no need of graduates? • You don’t believe me? • UNSW Mining preferences for 2014 were released last week, and have dropped 54% from 2013! Student recruitment
Preliminary local preferences for 2014 (as at 30 Sept 2013) Prelim. 1st Preferences v Actual Intake Notes: 1. Preference data is as indicated at end Sept of previous year (local undergraduate students only) 2. Intake is shown as total student intake into 1st year only; plus all years (incl. internationals) 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 1st Preference Intake (1st Yr) Intake (all Yrs) 2014 initial preferences (2013 figures in brackets) 1st 46 (91) 2nd 42 (67) 3rd 34 (56) Total (1-3): 122 (214)
• Even if we recruit them into uni, there is a 4 year lag before they come out the other end • Failure to provide scholarships • Failure to recruit graduates very quickly translates to students not entering, or entering, but then dropping out of mining. The university lag factor
Unless industry adopts a long-term strategic view of education support and graduate recruitment, they will never solve the problem of adequate graduate supply. 6 years ago, industry said they were committed for the long term In the last 12 months, it appears that all bets are off (with a small number of very notable exceptions)! The risk is that if numbers are allowed to drop back to where they were 10 years ago, Mining Schools will close and will not re-open. The education sector is different
Unless there is a major change in real, tangible commitment, there is a real risk that the graduate supply, when the industry picks up again, will not be sufficient, and industry will once again be in trouble Is anybody listening? Will companies become more strategic towards recruiting and developing critical human capital? Conclusions
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