While thousands of Australians have been forced out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic, one industry in Western Australia is struggling to meet demand.
Mobile plant operators are now the most popular profession sought by employers – spiking 20 per cent in demand in the past 12 months.
The dramatic increase comes despite the number of unemployed Western Australians skyrocketing to 120,000 and online job advertisements being down 40 per cent in June, compared to the same time in 2019.
Mobile plant operators in Perth are also earning 20 per cent more than the national average – at $43.78 per hour – as a result.
They are responsible for driving backhoes, bulldozers, excavators, front-end loaders and forklift trucks as well as any other machinery required to level, excavate, move and load earth or material.
Amalgam Recruitment managing director Tom Parker told The West Australian one client was looking to fill 80 mobile plant operator vacancies.
‘BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group all announced new mines or expansions prior to COVID and that new construction hasn’t really abated even though the pandemic hit,’ he said.
‘Obviously with the borders closed it severely restricts the number of people that would usually fly in or out, which has created a perfect storm.’
According to National Skills Commission data, mobile plant operators was the only profession to experience an increase in demand – and Australians do not even need a degree to do it.
To become a mobile plant operator, Australians can learn on the job as well as through a traineeship.
They do need to have a Year 10 school certificate and hold a licence to perform high risk work.
National Skills Commission data revealed online job advertisements fell from 12,000 12 months ago to about 7,700 in June.
Areas including sales, administrative support, human resources, retail and hospitality suffered the steepest falls of up to 50 per cent, The West Australian reported.
Ads for hairdressers, cobblers, tradesmem, labourers, healthcare workers, truck drivers and cleaners suffered falls of 10 to 20 per cent.
Consolidated Training Services owner Tom Barnes who said demand for the short courses allowing workers to begin heavy machinery careers was at an all-time high.
He added a day of training was enough to ‘get the basic skills to get out there and into a job’, with many operators start out on equipment including forklifts, bobcats and telehandlers.
‘The earth moving side is very busy … everything from loaders to excavators to graders. A lot of people are trying to change careers, they don’t want to get caught again with something like COVID,’ he said, The West Australian reported.