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BHP's Nickel West operation

BHP Nickel West operations. Image: BHP

BHP chief technical officer Laura Tyler has called on the mining industry, government and education sector to address a worrying shortfall in mining engineer graduates.

Speaking at the launch of National Skills Week, Tyler said that in 2020, there were “barely 100” mining engineer graduates from Australian universities nationally.

In 2015, Tyler said there were 333 mining engineer graduates from Australian universities nationally.

This is supported by a 2018 report from Monash University. The publication reported that, in 2017, 171 people were expected to graduate from Australian mining engineering courses. That figure fell to 98 in 2018.

Monash forecast there would be 69 mining engineer graduates in 2019 and 47 in 2020.

Despite this, Tyler said she is pleased with the processes in place to address the shortage, including the Future of Work Program – the company’s collaborative initiative with the Commonwealth Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE).

“Called the Future of Work Program, BHP is investing $30 million to help strengthen economic resilience in regional communities in particular,” Tyler said at the launch.

“It is targeted to address the specific needs of local workforces and small businesses, and I am proud that BHP supports this important work.”

The Future of Work Program was announced in March and saw BHP, alongside DESE, pledge to create new training opportunities for up to 1000 Australians in regional areas.

BHP’s eyes are firmly focussed on the next generation of mining engineers, metallurgists, and geologists.

“This year we will extend our graduate internship program to include first-year university students with an intent to encourage people just starting their careers to choose the resources sector,” Tyler continued.

“We continue to work with universities on curricula to make sure firstly that our graduates are best placed for the future workplace, and secondly that there are alternative pathways to develop careers in our sector.

“We have continued to review and extend our internal development opportunities to build vibrant and engaging technical career pathways for the future.”