Andrew Murdoch and Zach Relph
Thursday, 30 August 2018 8:05AM
Saracen Mineral Holdings boss Raleigh Finlayson is calling for the mining sector to stabilise its topsy-turvy engineering graduate demand, regardless of industry conditions, to promote mining as a viable pathway for students.
As 70 Curtin University students toured the WA School of Mines yesterday, Mr Finlayson spruiked Kalgoorlie-Boulder as an attractive option for budding graduates to enter the resources industry amid increasing pleas to address a touted skills shortage.
Mr Finlayson, also the WASM Alumni president, said the industry was too often at the mercy of fluctuating student enrolments, and a long-term and balanced approach needed to be taken.
“You put up a graph saying we are moving from 250 enrolments circa a decade ago to 38 enrolments now and it is a pretty startling look,” he said.
“But the biggest danger is we can put that graph up, get lots of attention and change the course of that 38 right now, we might end up bumping that up to 50 or 60 this year … the risk is if we get too much euphoria we end up with 300.
“From an industry perspective that might be great but we have to recognise that will mean students who don’t have a job and that is what will create this cycle of fluctuations that happens every time — we need to be smarter about what we do in the down-trend.
“We can’t keep going through these phases where we overact here and don’t do enough elsewhere.“We can’t just do it for two or three-year periods.“We need to look across a decade.
The Minerals Council of Australia has predicted mining engineering enrolments across Australia could fall to just 50 per year in about four years time, compared to about 300 in 2014
The mining excursion was designed to provide first and second-year engineering students still deciding on their study pathways with insights into the opportunities on offer in the mining sector.
It was spearheaded by BHP, alongside Curtin University, Saracen, Northern Star Resources and Evolution Mining. Curtin first-year student Nelson Nieuwkerk said he had not considered studying mining engineering until the camp.
“I had no clue of what I really wanted to do in my second year so I figured if I can expand my horizons of what is out there I will take that opportunity,” he said.
“I have only been here a day and to hear industry professionals talk about the opportunities in mining and the range of jobs, it is definitely something I am considering now.
“(The lack of enrolments) does entice me because it means you are up against less people and have more job security almost — it might be easier to get vacation work and a start in the industry.“But it does scare you a little bit as well, because people aren’t studying it and perhaps there is a reason they aren’t.
The history of the Western Australian School of Mines Alumni (WASMA) reflects the ups and downs of the Western Australian School of Mines (WASM) and the role it has played in supporting graduates in a range of activities and events. It also describes the important role that graduates have played in ensuring WASM remains in Kalgoorlie. Learn more.