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Invest now for the long-term....

.....and future-proof your business

Over the past few weeks, I have been highlighting key activities for businesses to action now to minimise the impact of the mining and resources skills shortage*.

Today’s post looks at the integral role that thinking ahead, developing long-term, people-focussed strategies, and implementing industry-specific training play in addressing this issue.

Western Australia is unique in more ways than one.

We are an insular State with hard borders and are heavily reliant upon the mining sector as a key economic driver. Too often, however, the role of people and their impact on a business’s bottom line is overlooked, particularly when the economy is booming and talent is readily available in the market. But what happens when business isn’t booming, or when key skills and capabilities are difficult to find and keep?

How do we protect ourselves from the impact of outside factors and avoid the pitfalls of our boom and bust cycles?

The answer is to build long-term (and I mean long-term!), people-focussed strategies well ahead of time because when it comes time for a bust (and that time will inevitably come again), it’s too late to invest in your people and your business.

Now is the time to plan and invest while you have the opportunity.

It may feel like it’s already too late to invest, but now is the perfect time. At Optimal Resourcing, we have seen the boom and bust cycle many times over the last 30 years and again and again, one thing is clear - you need to be constantly looking to the future, as well as pivoting for the here and now.

In the words of a grumpy old grader driver (my dear Dad):

“Keep your eyes on the road, don’t just look down at the blade. If all you do is look down at the blade, you will run off the road!”

That’s a metaphor I always have in my head – we need to focus on sustainable business models, which means focussing on developing robust, people-centred strategies to build resistance to boom and bust cycles.

The Optimal Resourcing team thinks beyond the need to just “recruit now” and we encourage companies to plan for long-term sustainability by examining the skills they have now and determining what they will need in 5, 10 and even 15 years. Optimal Resourcing looks at what policies can be implemented now to ensure constancy and how companies can build capability through their longer-term development of apprentices, trainees and graduates to reduce organisational skills gaps.

Focussing on short-term attraction strategies doesn’t last. You may fill a gap by offering an extra incentive (sign-on bonuses, for instance), but ultimately your culture is what will be the differentiator. If you have a culture that demonstrates loyalty to your people, you will breed loyalty in return. Demonstrating loyalty to your team, however, comes in many forms. It may be career paths, it may be other development plans, or it may be reward and recognition programmes. What it gives you, is retention and that’s what businesses need now more than ever.

By upskilling and investing in your current resources, engagement will increase, attrition rates will decrease, and you will start to build the resilience you need to remain viable in the long run.

According to the recent Pit Crew Report, technicians and trades workers will be hardest hit in relation to skills shortages, due to the high skill level required for some trades. The Pit Crew team further highlighted the importance of training supervisors, and we agree! In fact, this has been an ongoing gap since I commenced in the resources sector (back in the days of the dinosaur!).

85% of new managers have had no training to enable them to lead a team of individuals.

Optimal Resourcing’s People Management Training is specifically designed for new and emerging supervisors or supervisors who have not received any training and have been “thrown in the deep end”. The training teaches supervisors how to delegate tasks and how to split their time between technical and programming responsibilities. It covers how to set and manage expectations and provides tools and techniques to effectively manage performance and develop people. More information about the training can be found here.

I explore the importance of training and investing in staff through strategic, holistic workforce planning in my book; Offshoring or Not-Sure-ing? How to transition work between teams. I’m excited to announce my book is available here .

If you have an alternative solution to minimising the impact of a skills shortage in the Australian resources sector, I’d love to explore it with you! Please reach out if you’d like to grab a coffee or if Optimal Resourcing can help your organisation with any of the themes discussed here or in my previous posts.

Our free e-book on workforce planning is available for download here.

If you’re interested in my other posts in this series covering culture, holistic workforce planning strategies and other themes, please visit

Optimal Resourcing - Resourcing the future, with you.


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