Perth, Australia (PressExposure) June 17, 2009 -- The good news, according to the annual Employment Outlook for Mining released last month by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations' SkillsInfo initiative, is that over the next five years, mining employment will not reverse as severely as it increased during the boom.
Despite heavy job losses due to the global slowdown, the outlook reveals there are more people than ever employed in the mining industry.
At the height of the boom in 2006-07, there were 136,300 people employed in mining.
As at February 2009, there were 171,500 people working in the industry, with employment rising 71,000 or 70.6% over the previous five years - representing an annual growth rate of 11.3%.
Despite the onset of the global downturn in September last year, mining industry employment rose in the year to February 2009 with 26,200 new positions - the largest annual growth since 1990.
The exploration sector experienced the largest growth over the past five years with 16,600 new positions created.
The bad news is that mining industry employment is expected to decrease by around 1.5% per annum over the five years to 2013-14, compared with a 1% per annum rise in overall employment.
Metal ore mining is the sector expected to take the biggest hit, although almost a third of mining industry workers (32.3%) are employed in this area.
It is expected that the metal ore mining sector will decrease by 2.7% or 5900 positions over the next five years.
Despite the expected decrease in mining industry employment, engineers will continue to be in demand, according to Engineers Australia.
The SkillsInfo report says that there are 15,400 engineers from a range of disciplines working in Australia's mining industry.
Engineers Australia estimates that up to 70,000 engineers overall will retire by 2011, while just 45,000 engineering students are expected to graduate from Australian universities.
"Engineers Australia believes that the future Australian skills base will not cover retirements, let alone increased demand for engineering expertise driven by growth in the Australian economy and our transition to a climate-friendly, knowledge-based economy," the group said in a May submission to the government.
The group says that based on the 2006 census, there are around 40,000 engineers in Australia aged over 55 and that engineers tend to retire earlier than some other professions.
According to the SkillsInfo outlook, 11.5% of Australia's mining industry is aged over 55.
New research shows there may be an increasing interest in careers in the mining and engineering sectors.
University student career website GradConnection has analysed data submitted by 10,500 tertiary students and graduates, concluding that careers in mining and engineering are the second most popular choice behind accounting.
It was found that 11.2% of respondents nominated the mining and engineering fields as their chosen career.
From these students and graduates, civil or structural engineering was by far the most popular choice, with 72.1% of respondents nominating the field.
Process engineering was next with 24.6%, followed by electrical engineering (20.8%), mechatronics (18.8%), chemical (15%) and geology (7.7%).