FREIGHT WEEK: 'Generational challenge' confronts transport on skills

Transport and logistics faces a "generational challenge" in trying to attract new people to the industry

By Ruza Zivkusic | September 8, 2011

A "generational challenge" is confronting transport and logistics, Freight Week has heard, as employers struggle to convince young people to take up careers in the industry.

Transport and Logistics Industry Skills Council CEO Robert Adams told attendees of the five-day event the industry needs to lift its game on marketing to attract fresh blood.

As sectors, particularly trucking, face the twin challenges of gaining young people’s attention and fending off the mining industry from poaching skilled labour, Adams put the onus on transport and logistics to act.

"It’s a generational challenge we have, we need to create new strategies," he says.

"A survey of 26,000 high school students has found not one has ticked the box of transport logistics."

Auto Skills Australia CEO Geoff Gwilym, who also spoke at the People Day conference on Monday, says the industry needs to better target women to enter the workforce.

However, it appears operators will still struggle for some time to come in stopping workers from fleeing to the mines chasing lucrative work.

Direct employment in the mining industry has doubled since 2005 but the sector is still experiencing labor shortage, Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA) employee relations consultant Con Deftereos says.

Deftereos says the vacancy rate is "ever increasing" in the mining industry.

"In the
February 2011 quarter, our industry needed 1,800 people – this exceeds any vacancy recorded pre-global financial crisis," he says.

It is believed the direct employment in the mining industry will grow to 250,000 by 2015, from 205,800 this year. Deftereos believes mining will need to attract 40,000 workers in the next four years to continue to grow.

"Eight percent of our members experience skill shortage for engineers and by 2015 we will have a shortfall of 1700 new engineering graduates," he says.

Figures for skilled vacancy in the mining industry in February 2011 show the mining sector is 8,100 employees short, or 3.9 percent. The construction sector needs 20,100 to meet demand and the manufacturing sector has 12,100 skilled vacancy roles to fill.

"By 2015 we expect a shortfall of mining engineers to be 1,700," Deftereos says.

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