NSW’s resources and energy industry will conservatively require an additional 4650 workers by the end of 2028, according to new modelling released today by the Australian Resources & Energy Employer Association.
Resources and Energy Workforce Forecast: 2023-2028 breaks down the estimated labour required to operate new, expansion and restarted mining and oil and gas projects expected to enter production by December 2028.
Nationally, the report lists 103 projects as being either committed or advanced in feasibility and considered likely to proceed within the five-year period.
NSW has 17 projects advanced in its investment pipeline which are forecast to create demand for the more than 4500 new workers, according to AREEA’s modelling based on Department on Industry project data.
AREEA CEO Steve Knott said the activity highlighted NSW’s resurgence – and, potentially, more favourable regulatory regime – with this year’s report the first time NSW has had greater workforce projections over the forward five years than Queensland.
“These growth prospects are also across a more balanced portfolio of commodities,” Mr Knott said.
“While last year, coal represented 12 of 19 projects in the pipeline, this year coal represents 7 of 17 projects. These are, however, significant projects and will drive demand for an estimated 2500 workers over the next five years – led by Dartbrook, Maxwell and Mt Pleasant.
“Gold is the next strongest performer with almost 500 jobs potentially coming through two new projects (Cowal, McPhillamys) and one expansion (Cadia) to sustain workforce numbers at the sector’s best known mine.
“Another 1100 jobs are in the pipeline through silver (Bowdens), iron ore (Hawsons) and the Broken Hill Cobalt Project.
“This year also sees NSW enter the critical minerals race, with the Dubbo and Balranald projects awaiting FID and promising around 300 new jobs.
“While in the oil and gas sector, Santos is nearing final approvals for its long-anticipated Narrabri CSG project, with 200 production jobs (and 1300 construction jobs) on standby. Squadron Energy is advancing the state’s first LNG import terminal at Port Kembla. In terms of capital investment, NSW has increased the value of its project pipeline from $14.5 billion to $17.5 billion, with more projects earlier in feasibility.”
However, Mr Knott warned the skills shortage crisis was far from over – posing the biggest threat to this investment.
“The biggest challenge for NSW mining operators will be filling these 4650 positions,” he said.
“Over the past five years, skills shortages have become progressively worse to the point that labour supply is as big a factor in approving growth projects as commercial considerations.
“With soaring vacancy levels, the industry’s existing labour force is unlikely to offer any real relief here. Creative solutions for short-, medium- and long-term outcomes must be examined.
“This is where government, industry and all social and training stakeholders need to work more closely together towards coordinated outcomes.”