THE number of women directly employed across Australia’s resource industry has seen its biggest quarterly increase in eight years – an encouraging result as resource employers focus on diversifying their workforces for greater competitiveness.
According to recently released Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) labour force data, the number of women working in the industry jumped by 8,000 to total 38,600 (or 17.17% of the workforce) in the three months to May 2016.
This compared to a decrease of 6,600 men employed in resources to now sit at 185,800. The total number of people now employed in the industry is 224,400.
The participation of women is now inching closer to levels seen during the height of the resources construction boom and labour demand; before commodity price pressure and market challenges resulted in a drop in resources employment.
AMMA executive director – industry services, Tara Diamond, said that while the quarterly boost in female employment is encouraging, further consistent increases are required for the industry to achieve its goal of 25% female participation by 2020.
“The statistics indicate that despite market challenges impacting the workforce structures of many Australian resource organisations, employers remain committed to prioritising their diversity strategies in recognition of the positive impact diversity has on organisational performance and competitiveness,” Ms Diamond said.
“Although total employment in the industry has experienced some fluctuations over the past few years, we can only hope this positive boost in women employed in our industry keeps momentum.”
According to the ABS, the largest gains occurred in the ‘exploration and other mining support services’ sector, in which women’s participation increased by almost 3,900 to 8,900. This was followed by the coal mining sector, which employed 1,800 more women to reach 5,700, and the oil and gas sector which employed around 1,200 women to reach 5,900.
However, women remain most prominently employed in metal ore mining, with this sector increasing its female workforce numbers by 1,250 to 12,300.
Encouragingly for an industry that has traditionally low part-time employment compared to the all industries average, the number of part-time workers gained ground lost over the year by rising from 3,700 to 6,600 (or to almost 3% of the workforce) in the quarter. The vast majority of these new roles are occupied by women.
This year, AMMA’s diversity initiative the Australian Women in Resources Alliance (AWRA) launched its Guide to Flexible Work in response to a growing interest among resource employers to implement flexible arrangements, such as part time work, to increase the diversity of their workforces.
AMMA will closely monitor and report on the resource industry’s labour statistics, and through AWRA, will continue to assist employers to benefit from greater workforce diversity.