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Wealth of career opportunities await in-demand graduates

Almost all of the 30 WA School of Mines students who graduated from the Kalgoorlie university campus in a ceremony at the WMC Conference Centre on Friday night have waltzed into jobs in the resources industry, signalling the rising demand for skilled workers in the recovering sector.

Students were honoured for completing degrees in a range of fields including geology, mining engineering and metallurgy.

Among the cohort are young professionals currently employed by some of the best-known mining companies in WA, including KCGM, Independence Group, Fortescue Metals Group and Rio Tinto.

A small number are engaged in further study.

About 10 have secured graduate positions with gold miner Northern Star Resources, run by well-known WASM graduate Bill Beament, who was honoured on Friday with life membership of WASM Alumni alongside Women in Mining and Resources WA founder and Kalgoorlie Mining Innovation Hub boss Sabina Shugg.

The ceremony came against a backdrop of rising concern from industry figures about declining tertiary enrolments in mining fields.

WASMA president and Saracen Mineral Holdings managing director Raleigh Finlayson said it was clear how quickly the industry had turned since the end of the boom, with gold, nickel and iron ore miners all among the companies willing to take on WASM graduates.

“I reckon only this time last year they were graduating without a job and now they’re graduating with three or four offers,” he said.

“That’s what’s happened in 12 months.

“Now the scary part is (new) things like lithium probably haven’t kickstarted yet and then the even scarier part is graduate numbers aren’t that bad.”

Mr Finlayson said the industry needed to find ways to draw more young talent into mining education, with only between 30 and 40 mining engineering students enrolled across the country in 2018.

“That’s a fraction of what the industry is going to need in three to four years time,” he said.

“I really fear we’ll get back to the old ways where salaries are going to double and the industry lays exorbitant wages rather than stepping back and saying ‘what’s the sustainable approach here?’.”

He pointed to increasing the industry’s involvement in schools and universities, as well as funding more cadetships and scholarships, as one tactic, but said fixing the issue required a multi-faceted approach.

“There’s not one silver bullet,” Mr Finlayson said.

“There’s probably five or six strategies we’re working on at the moment to fix that problem.”

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