Workforce mobility is critical to accessing skills and workers but Australia has conflicting laws that mean businesses spend an estimated $5 billion a year complying with inconsistent laws across multiple jurisdictions trying to move workers interstate. The State and Federal Government must now move fast to remove barriers to interstate migration.
Companies can further support worker mobility by addressing issues such as family impacts and lifestyle pursuits as well as remuneration or relocating jobs to low-cost regional centres.
Innovative telework applications and faster Internet speeds will also give businesses an opportunity to take the jobs to the workers and free businesses from geographic constraints in hiring.
Section 8 of Where is your next worker? examines:
Rio Tinto has opened a remote mining control centre in Perth, which is trialling operations of an iron ore mine in the Pilbara. Drivers and other machinery operators can control the equipment remotely from more than 1,000km from the mine, reducing the need for staff to be located in a remote area.
In its thisisourstory.com.au advertising campaign, Rio Tinto has featured employees such as Marie Bourgoin. This recent recruit to the firm who studied a Masters of Business Administration in France, was given the opportunity to study in Australia, and today is a manager at Rio Tinto’s Remote Operations Centre in Perth, with responsibility for scheduling and maintaining the efficiency of Rio Tinto’s iron ore operations.
“The walls of the centre are lined with screens, which monitor rail, port and mine movements up to 1,500 kilometres away in the Pilbara region of Western Australia,” she says. “In the mining industry, there is nothing that compares to it, anywhere in the world.”
At present, the network bandwidth available at mining operations in remote locations constrains the widespread adoption of such services. However, they are likely to become more viable as wireless technologies gain speed, and additional bandwidth becomes available.
Finding people to work in remote locations is a challenge and involves significant transport and housing costs. This creative project could be an important part of the solution.
|Retaining the ageing workforce for their expertise
Mature age workers are typically the most experienced and reliable employees and is a massive untapped source of productive capacity. Retaining these wisdom workers will be increasingly important during the skills shortage.
|Increasing women’s participation in the workforce
Retaining women in the workforce could lessen the impact of Australia’s skills shortage. While both sexes are equally represented in the workforce when careers start, women’s participation rate drops between the ages of 25 and 44, and never fully recovers.
|Sourcing talent and skills through workforce diversity
Many overlooked potential workers - including people with disabilities, Indigenous Australians and immigrants with qualifications from unfamiliar institutions - could make a major contribution to solving the looming skills shortage.