University to help fill mining worker gaps

University to help fill mining worker gaps

SOUTH Australia’s first university mining course is set to address the critical shortage of skilled workers in the industry which analysts fear threatens the state’s economic growth.

As the state’s resources boom intensifies, a recruitment drive for the course at the University of Adelaide, will begin this month, targeting city and rural schools.

The new four-year Bachelor of Engineering degree will offer up to 30 places in it first intake of students in the first semester of 2007.

The university declined to confirm the figure for start-up costs, said to be “significant”, but said it was expected to be “self-sustaining” in several years.

The course adds to programs at Curtin University of Technology in Western Australia, the University of NSW and the University of Queensland. Professor Ian Plimer, recruited from the University of Melbourne this year to develop mining geology courses, said the degree would help satisfy the “massive need” for skilled engineers across Australia.

“Australia is producing just 40 per cent of the mining engineers it needs,” Professor Plimer said. “We have three universities that graduate about 105 mining engineers each year. That’s more than the U.S. (producing about 95) but it falls way short of our needs.”

Mining is one of the fastest growing employment sectors in SA with direct employment rising from 3720 to 8900 by 2012 – the staff equivalent of three Mitsubishi car plants. “This university, in conjunction with the State Government, has been incredibly astute to realise the world is undergoing a global restructuring of commodities and we can play a huge role in that,” Professor Plimer said.

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