BOILERMAKERS and fitters have two of the hottest tickets in town as Paget businesses fight for tradies to sit on their books.
It is a skills shortage that is forcing companies to knock back contracts from large mining houses just because they cannot find the employees to do the work.
And when they have someone on the books it's not a certainty they will stay as four Paget engineering businesses told the Daily Mercury they were losing workers to more lucrative contracts. They were also gaining workers from other companies too.
This spike of work had come from mining companies playing catch-up after putting off non-critical maintenance of their equipment while coal prices were down, Resource Industry Network general manager Adrienne Rourke said.
Since the coal price has increased the companies are scheduling in their mining equipment for an upgrade.
Hastings Deering needs 70 workers across its CQ operations and is looking to the future by taking on 40 apprentices, its largest intake in five years.
DGH Engineering will take as many boilermakers and fitters it can get.
This shortage has forced companies of all sizes to cast their web well outside of Mackay, advertising in print, radio and television all across Queensland.
Resource Industry Network has ran its own campaign to draw people to the region, advertising all around the Australia on Facebook about how beautiful Mackay is and how many jobs the region has.
Jayde Davies grinding
Hervey Bay boilermaker Jayde Davies moved to Mackay as soon as he finished his trade to start a job at DGH Engineering and moved up in August. "If you're young and willing to move around, places like Mackay are a great place to start your career," he said.
Like Mr Davies, Phil Green started at DGH in August, moving from Coffs Harbour with his girlfriend.
"The money is a little bit better and we both were happy to travel and see more of Australia."
But their boss, general manager Dave Hackett, said while some were happy to come to Mackay the people who left in the downturn were reluctant. "For them to take their families out of the region was a big cost and strain on everyone because it all just fell away so quickly," he said. "They're all too aware of the cyclical nature of the industry which takes about seven to eight years to change."
George on jobs
THE Carmichael Mine project has the potential to steal hundreds of skilled workers from the already tight Mackay labour pool.
To prepare Mackay for that, Member for Dawson George Christensen (right) is campaigning for a federally funded underground training simulator with Resource Industry Network at CQU to skill-up more workers.
This facility was once used in Mackay by Mastermyne but during the downturn it sat dormant and was removed.
"The project will cost $10million to get off the ground and I would like the government to ultimately pay for the construction of the whole project," he said.
He has already tried to convince Regional Development Australia to fund a marketing campaign to dispel the myths that Mackay is struggling in a downturn and to promote the liveability of the region.
"We don't want that stigma to continue, we want people to realise - the place is ripe for investment," he said.
"What is going to be needed is an intense marketing program around that fact and I have certainly spoken to RDA to try and take some lead on this."
He said although the RDA's job was to facilitate capital investment in regions, bringing families to Mackay would be just as large as an investment in the region.
Julieanne on Jobs
MEMBER for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert believes to lure people back to the region, the jobs being offered need to be permanent and more transparent.
The Labor MP said Brisbane people were reluctant to move to Mackay for work as most of the jobs advertised were by labour hire and recruitment companies.
"Paget businesses are not confident the work is going to be regular to put people on permanent contracts," she said. "But with short term contracts it is a very difficult situation at the moment because people won't come unless they can be offered permanent work."
She also said the job advertisements didn't say which companies the jobs were for, but if they said BHP or Rio Tinto people would apply.
That's why she had been focussing on up-skilling Mackay people who already live in the region.
She said over the past year the government had 494 in work through the Back to Work program, 588 in the Youth Boost Program and 355 through Works for Queensland in the Mackay-Whitsunday region.
Of those 355 in the Works for Queensland program, 267 now have jobs and 42 are being up-skilled through training course or were trying to get their school qualifications.
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