Are gen Zers turning their backs on mining careers?

Young people turning back on mining

A new report suggests young people don’t want to work in the mining industry. Are we storing up problems for the future?

As the mining industry battles the biggest labour shortage in a generation, a new report suggests young people aren’t interested in mining careers.

The Australian Resources and Energy Employer Association’s (AREEA) research has found the nation’s mining industry needs 24,000 workers to fill the new jobs being created over the next five years.

But leading industry figures told the ABC the industry would be up against it finding those workers, because gen Z (or “zoomers”) had a negative impression of mining, thanks to environmental concerns and incidents like the destruction of the Juukan Gorge rock shelters, a site of cultural significance to local Aboriginal communities.

Tempting zoomers with industry transition

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the industry was doing “everything it can to improve its environmental and social performance” and he hoped high salaries and a “transitioning industry” would be enough to encourage zoomers into mining.

“We’ve launched a program directly targeted at the hearts and minds of gen Z, saying to them: ‘don’t stand on the sidelines throwing rocks; get involved in this industry – you be a part of the transition as the industry and the world moves to net zero by 2050’,” he told the ABC.

Huge opportunities, huge risks

The AREEA’s report found that at least 107 mining projects were at risk of being negatively affected by the shortage of labour, which was threatening the continuity of existing operations and causing temporary and permanent downgrades across the sector.

AREEA head of policy Tom Reid said government, the industry and unions needed to work together to encourage young people to think again about mining, and to fill the huge numbers of mining jobs currently vacant and in the pipeline.

What do you think? Is gen Z turning its back on the mining industry? In this month’s poll, we want to find out. Take the poll.

Dan Hatch
Mining People International