This article was originally published on Australia's Mining Monthly website - 07/08/2017
AUSTRALIAN mining equipment, technology and services companies are struggling with a lack of diversity in their workforce, particularly in relation to gender.
METS players are trying to boost gender diversity within their ranks.
While women often work in human resources, marketing or administration functions, there is a lack of women in engineering, technical and scientific roles, and leadership positions.
Conversely, universities around the country are struggling to initially attract and then retain women studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects.
On average, roughly 20% of students studying STEM subjects are female.
The METS sector employs more than 300,000 people in Australia, exports more than $90 billion of products and services each year and ranges from technology start-ups, to small to medium-sized equipment and software manufacturers, all the way through to multinational, innovative world leaders.
Despite this, METS organisations are struggling to hire women with a STEM background.
In response to this need, Austmine, in conjunction with METS Ignited devised the Women in STEM: METS Career Pathway Program.
This initiative provides an integrated online and offline program to second, third and fourth year students undertaking a STEM degree at several of our member universities.
Students who participate receive online coaching and mentoring, combined with a paid 10-week internship at an Austmine member company.
The internship provides hands-on experience for the student, as well as knowledge of a prospective employer and an understanding of the METS sector.
The two-year program will accept 40 students each year.
Students are paid directly by the employer company, demonstrating those organisations’ commitment to improving diversity in the METS sector.
Austmine member Jennmar is participating in the program because it wanted to support workforce diversity in the METS industry.
Jennmar coal national manager Peter Craig told Australia’s Mining Monthly that having diversity in its teams, be it gender, age or ethnicity diversity was important for encouraging diversity of thought and creating positive change within the business.
“It’s important that young women understand the STEM is an exciting and dynamic career route to go down, with plenty of opportunity for great roles within the METS sector,” he said.
Craig said Jennmar had partnered regularly with the University of Wollongong and UNSW in the past to provide internships for students.
“It is critical that these next generations receive hands-on experience at the coal face, in order to understand the industry they’re coming into,” he said.
“We invest heavily in our R&D facility at Smeaton Grange, where we involve the interns in product testing and 3D modelling and design within our manufacturing plant, to ensure we are always developing our offerings for our clients, in line with what the industry needs.
“To maintain this innovation and forward-thinking approach, we will need STEM capabilities coming through our workforce.”