I believe that the success or failure of a new starter to our industry is linked to their first exposure to mining in Australia. Currently about a third of people that get a start in the industry, last less than 2 swings (a swing is the days you spend on site). That works out to 10-20 days or less before the new starter either “snatches-it” (mining term for quitting) or gets “a window seat on the next plane out” (mining term for getting the sack). Either way the costs to the companies quickly mount, with each person costing between $10K-$20K (medicals, flights, inductions and wages) only to last a few days.
It’s not like the employers haven’t tried to fix the problem either, some extended the training time from a couple of weeks to months. This often had/has mixed results (in many mines the failure rate went up) which is why the current system is maintained. The current system is, if you are wondering? A couple of swings to learn the job/rules, then a couple more swings to find your feet. A couple more swings after that and it will be almost 3 months and if you are still making silly mistakes (which happens to a number of people for a number of reasons) then they are going to be looking for a way to ease you out and bring in the next person to have a go. That’s mining, sorry if its confronting, but this is the way it works.
So why do so many people fail in the first month of their dream mining job?
These new starters all have an expectation of what the job and lifestyle is going to be like. Then when the reality of the situation turns out to be very different from the original expectation, you get people saying “thanks but no thanks” after only a short time. I once had a young man try to climb out the passenger side window of the shift bosses ute, as we headed down the pit ramp. I got him back into his seat and it was straight back up the ramp to the medic office where they gave him something to calm him down. An extreme and rare reaction for sure, but when you look at it, this was just this guy’s way of saying “thanks but no thanks”.
This is one of the reasons I got involved in writing the training for Underground Training. Not to replace anything, but to give the new starters a real understanding of the jobs that they are going to have to do on site, like extending services, watering down and scaling. Because when a new starter goes in knowing how the mine works and what the different terms like “the backs” are, then they are giving themselves the best chance possible of succeeding. Having this extra exposure allows most people to meet the 3month expectation that most employers have. Because like it or not, we are in an upswing and they have run out of experienced people, giving most sites no choice but to hire new starters to keep their mines going at full production. Now is the time, if you have been thinking about getting in.
As always, if you have a question about mining just use the link and I will get back to you.