HR Planning and Recruitment in Australian Mining Industry
Challenges in HR strategies related to the supply and demand for labor in the industry as well as issues related to demographics (ageing workforces and diversity) are investigated. The recruitment challenges such as sourcing from external or internal labor markets, and employer branding are also discussed. Firms engaged in mining activities in Australia work with limited resources, usually in remote areas, and require employees with highly specialized skills. When the economy is declining, the human resources strategists in mining organizations make decisions to ensure top talent is retained to lead the business through the hard times. Lack of highly specialized personnel in specific fields such as rock mechanics engineering, metallurgy, and mineral processing are hailing the industry. Due to the shortage of mining experts in Australia, the authorities have made arrangements for sourcing of skilled migrants.
HR Strategies for the Australian Mining Industry 4
The HR Planning Challenges of the Australian Mining Industry 6
Labor Supply and Demand 6
Demographic Issues Facing the Australian Mining Industry 6
Recruitment Strategies for the Australian Mining Industry 7
Sourcing of Recruits 7
In Australia, mining is a key primary industry and a great contributor to the economy of the country. Various minerals and ores are extracted at different parts across the country. The industry employs about 220,000 people (Downes, Hanslow, & Tulip, 2014). Over time, mining booms have greatly contributed to the increased immigration into Australia. The mining boom is at a risk of coming to an end as the industry is struggling to employ people who have specialized skills. Some of the factors influencing the performance of the Australian mining industry include, but are not limited to, the country’s physical location neighboring fast growing Asian economic centers such as India, China, and Japan. The unexploited mineral resources and the availability of skilled labor are the other factors (Dawyer, Pham, Jago, Bailey, & Marshall, 2016). All these factors could be bad or good news for the mining industry in the country.
The mining boom, which started off in 2006 has highlighted an intense labor predicament in the industry (Hutchings, Cieri, & Shea, 2011). Human resource planning in the country’s mining industry faces a number of challenges. This paper investigates the human resources strategies and planning challenges in the Australian mining sector. Challenges in HR strategies related to the supply and demand for labor in the industry as well as issues related to demographics (ageing workforces and diversity) are investigated. Finally, the recruitment challenges such as sourcing from external or internal labor markets, and employer branding are also discussed.
HR Strategies for the Australian Mining Industry
Firms engaged in mining activities in Australia work with limited resources, usually in remote areas, and require employees with highly specialized skills (Zheng, Rolfe, & Milia, 2007). These organizations’ activities are capital intensive, and are prone to environmental, political, and global issues. The Australian mining industry is one of the most advanced industries in terms of technology, but heavily relies on human resources for its operational success.
According to Levin (2009), when human resource departments make decisions related to HR functions, the aim is to improve efficiency and better productivity. Other aims for HR decisions include achieving lower operational costs and improve growth of revenue for the organization. Nevertheless, in order to be really strategic, the department of human resources should have a good understanding of business strategy that it seeks to execute and its consequences. It is also important for the HR to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the people given the task of delivering the strategy (Hills, 2008).
All over the world, mineral commodities are known to be volatile, meaning that periods of boom and bust are common within short timeframes. Traditionally, when mineral commodities are declining in demand, the traditional strategy of the HR system in the industry is to reduce the number of employees to lower operating costs (Sampathkumar, 2010). However, the advent of strategic human resources has given human resource professionals an opportunity to advise their organizations on how to manage costs without having to damage the business’ competitive positioning, key services, or growth projections.
During periods of capital limitations, dwindling margins, and declining demands, a basic strategy embraced by organizations to be more effective is to put their assets and human resources to maximum use. For that reason, organizations in the Australian mining industry pinpoint and retain talent within the company and at the same time endeavor to develop that talent as it will lead the organization into the subsequent boom.
In a declining economy, human resource professionals need to be stressing to their firms that it is indispensable to do the correct thing for the sustainability and business value in the long term. This involves identifying the connection between performance and leadership, hence making sure that top talent is retained, trained and developed so as to give business guidance during hard economic times (Walsh, Sturman, & Longstreet, 2010).
Organizations in the Australian mining industry manage their human resources so as to create a competitive advantage. The key objective for the HR departments in such firms during trouble is to mobilize corporate intelligence, thus ensuring that mining firms do not just reduce their workforce but are indeed right sizing.
Regarding the challenge of the aging demographics, the mining organizations put in place plans to ensure that people with the right skills and suitable experience are employed to replace those aging. Other strategies embraced by the HR planners in the mining industry include vibrant lines of communication, a work culture whose atmosphere is family-oriented, high-level of involvement in community activities, and offering of employee benefits such as medical benefits, wellness programs, and profit sharing.
The HR Planning Challenges of the Australian Mining Industry
Generally, the key challenge facing the mining industry is a shortage of skilled personnel to meet its production capacity (Schultz & Grimm, 2008). Each year, the number of people entering this field is less than those exiting the industry to look for other career and job opportunities. Some of the main reasons for this trend include the ever decreasing number of graduates with the requisite skills, the general portrayal of the mining industry, and the draining of knowledge and talent resulting from high turn-over and retirement rates.
Labor Supply and Demand
The mining industry has a general shortage of experts in specific geological specialties such as skilled metallurgists, planning engineers, rock mechanics engineers, and experts in mineral processing. Other experts in mining technology who are in short supply are the resource geologists. These professionals are required to have skills in information technology needed to effectively carry out statistical evaluation, delineation of the reserves where ore reserves are found, and to prepare a resource report. Due to the acute shortage of such resource geologists, the few who can be found are the ones who usually determine their pay.
It is a big challenge for new mining engineering graduates to get employed in the sector due to their lack of experience. Most mining companies in Australia want to employ people with several years’ experience. This makes junior mining geologists to find themselves in a vicious cycle since they are unable to get an opportunity to gain the relevant experience that would help them secure employment within the sector.
Clearly, the HR planning has contributed in one way or the other to the shortage of skilled labor supply in the mining industry. For instance, they have not put in place long-term strategies to train fresh graduates and equip them with skills necessary to place them in employment. Such a strategy would go a long way in addressing the acute shortage of skilled personnel in the country’s mining sector.
Demographic Issues Facing the Australian Mining Industry
Aging is the main problem in this category of HR planning challenges. Globally, there has been a significant shift in the global labor market structure regarding unemployment. This can be confirmed by the fact that the proportion of the aging population is increasing. In this regard, people aged 50 years and above are dominating the labor market. Considering this, it is reasonable to say that the issue of unemployment is a worldwide challenge and thus no country can successfully do away with the problem singlehandedly (Radović-Marković, 2013). Within the Australian mining industry, the problem is even made worse by the lack of an elaborate strategy to train new mining experts. Thus, aging mine workers are hardly replaced, further compounding the problem of human resources shortage within the sector.
Recruitment Strategies for the Australian Mining Industry
Selection and recruitment is a key process in the human resourcing strategy of any organization. Through this process, a firm is able to identify and secure the suitable talents needed for the success of the company. the main objective of conducting recruitments is to enable a firm maintain a pool of candidates with suitable skills, making it simpler for the HR department to select the most qualified candidate for a given post within the company (Gamage, 2014).
Just like many other industries, organizations within the mining industry in Australia do recruitment and selection through sourcing of candidates using advertisements and other means. This is then followed by screening possible candidates through interviews and tests. Candidates are then selected on the basis of the outcomes of the interviews and tests. Thorough screening is done to make sure that the new recruits are able to effectively perform their new roles.
Sourcing of Recruits
He Australian mining industry has been keen on sourcing workers from outside the country. This is mainly made easier by the country’s federal visa program and the Enterprise Migration Agreement (EMA). For example, Hancock Prospecting, one of the mining companies in Australia applied for EMA recently, covering about 1,517 foreign employees for the company’s mining project. Of late, the country’s mineral council has embarked on advertising mining positions outside the country, claiming that migrants with mining skills are vital for the prosperity of the Australian mining industry. Even though the reasons may be multifaceted, the Australian mining stakeholders argue that shortage of workers in the mining industry is the reason for enthusiastic calls for immigrant miners.
Usually, the development of mines has high demand of workers at the start when construction is being done. This demand decreases towards the production phase. This could be problematic for recruiters since they will be required to drop some of the workers sometime. Planning for this laying off of such workers midway may be costly for the company and inconvenient for the affected employees.
In Australia, mining is a key primary industry and a great contributor to the economy of the country. Human resource planning in the country’s mining industry faces a number of challenges. Firms engaged in mining activities in Australia work with limited resources, usually in remote areas, and require employees with highly specialized skills. All over the world, mineral commodities are known to be volatile, meaning that periods of boom and bust are common within short timeframes. When the economy is declining, the human resources strategists in mining organizations make decisions to ensure top talent is retained to lead the business through the hard times. Lack of highly specialized personnel in specific fields such as rock mechanics engineering, metallurgy, and mineral processing are hailing the industry. Due to the shortage of mining experts in Australia, the authorities have made arrangements for sourcing of skilled migrants.
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