NOT only is WA¹s mining boom causing casual labour shortages in rural WA, it also seems that the nex

30 Mar, 2007 08:45 PM
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With fly-in, fly-out jobs or shift work, they are still able to help out on the farm and keep up with what was happening during their time off.

And in many cases mining is taking the place of the traditional off-farm income made from crut-ching or shearing during the quiet times.

The revelation comes on the back of recent fig-ures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics which shows that the number of agricultural workers has slumped by 22pc to just over 45,000 in the last year. The number of workers in the mining sector has risen to more than 52,000.

The trend has also been reflected at agricultural colleges with students demanding more trade-based courses in addition to the normal agricultural studies.

WA College of Agriculture, Narrogin principal Andrew Castle said the college had changed its teaching program to accommodate the increased demand for trade skills.

³We have gone from a five-day week concen-trating on agriculture to a four-day agricultural course and one day devoted to trade skills,² he said.

³In many cases parents are saying to their kids, get a trade or go and work on the mines for a few years to build some cash up and then come back to the farm,² he said.

³With fly-in fly-out work, they are able to do a couple of weeks on the mine and then a week at home to keep up their farming skills.

³At the moment farming is barely viable and so while the mining industry is so strong it is a good chance for the kids to make some good money in a few years before coming back to the farm.²

WA College of Agriculture, Cunderdin principal Geoff Moyle said the college had become renowned for its trade courses over the years.

³We actually now have employers from the mining industry coming onto the site to conduct interviews with our students,² he said.

³We have run trade based courses for a number of years now and our students are getting recognised as having the skills from these courses to go straight into apprenticeships with these companies.²

³For example Westrac, who are well known for their tough selection process for new staff, offer five to six of our students apprenticeships every year.

³For some time we have provided a mix of trade based courses and agricultural based courses and it appears to be a good mix.

³Students are well suited to going straight into the mining industry because they have had experience operating heavy machinery during their time at the college.²

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