One Australian industry offering six-figure salaries is struggling to find employees thanks to JobKeeper payments and border closures.
One Australian industry offering six-figure salaries is struggling to find employees thanks to JobKeeper payments and border closures.

$100k job no Australians want

Despite offering six-figure salaries, drilling companies in Western Australia are struggling to fill spots on mines as a result of the JobKeeper wage subsidy and coronavirus-enforced border closures.

A number of exploration rigs in the state, offering $100,000-a-year pay packets, have been left idle due to the lack of workers, causing concern that investors will take their money elsewhere.

"There's a time now where people are pushing things and the money is there," Association of Mining and Exploration Company (AMEC) chief executive, Warren Pearce, told The West Australian.

"(If) you push that back six or 12 months, maybe the appetite from investors and the companies starts to disappear."

He added that the money is there and "ready to go into the ground", but workers are needed to drill rigs first.

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West Australian drilling companies are struggling to fill spots on mines. Picture: Tony McDonough
West Australian drilling companies are struggling to fill spots on mines. Picture: Tony McDonough

Companies have also blamed the state's hard border closure - in place for much of last year, and reinstated to a certain degree with a number of states after Christmas - which made the use of FIFO workers difficult, because they had to first endure 14 days of quarantine.

Last October, Australian Workers' Union (AWU) national secretary, Daniel Walton, called the situation "heartbreaking".

"While the union understood the public health imperative driving WA's hard border policy, it has created unprecedented difficulties for FIFO workers," he said at the time.

"In response, early in the pandemic crisis, the AWU negotiated hard with employers to ensure a significant number of FIFO workers were able to relocate permanently to WA with their families for at least the duration of the hard border period.

"The AWU also negotiated with employers that those quarantining were paid. Of course in many cases relocating families has been impossible, and these workers have obviously been under huge stress for months now. It's a really heartbreaking situation."

Mr Walton added that the compulsory isolation measures were having "very real and very concerning mental health ramifications" on workers.

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While it’s a “difficult job in remote locations”, it’s a good starting salary, DDH1 co-founder and director Murray Pollock said. Picture: AAP Image/Kim Christian
While it’s a “difficult job in remote locations”, it’s a good starting salary, DDH1 co-founder and director Murray Pollock said. Picture: AAP Image/Kim Christian

Interest in mining industry jobs has also reportedly dwindled following the introduction of the JobKeeper and JobSeeker programs.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, DDH1 Drilling - which employs about 900 workers and has 96 rigs - typically received 350 applications each month when advertising for roles.

When the Federal Government introduced the wage subsidies last April, however, the drilling company said the number of monthly applications plummeted to just 38.

Now, DDH1 co-founder and director Murray Pollock says they're struggling to find suitable candidates, despite easing their application requirements.

"It's a difficult job in remote locations, it's not necessarily the work people are looking for," he told the publication.

"But gee, it's a good starting salary."

Originally published as $100k job no Australians want



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