Mackay Conveyer Equipment managing director Jason Kelly said his business was adopting technology to maintain competitive. Picture: Supplied
Mackay Conveyer Equipment managing director Jason Kelly said his business was adopting technology to maintain competitive. Picture: Supplied

‘Working smarter not harder’ is what’s needed right now

EMPLOYERS across the Mackay Isaac Whitsunday region are being urged to get ahead of the impending automation of jobs with one small business owner saying the “old attitude of working smarter not harder can’t be more appropriate than now”.

Inevitable changes to the workforce were outlined in the Mackay Isaac Whitsunday Future Employment Study, headed by the Greater Whitsunday Alliance.

The report provides a detailed insight into the future of jobs in agriculture, healthcare and social assistance, mining and mining equipment, technology and services as well as tourism.

Among these industries, the mining and METS sector was identified as the area automation and augmentation would impact most.

A Minerals Council of Australia-commissioned report found technological innovations would alter more than 77 per cent of jobs in Australia’s mining sector over the next five years.

The report revealed tasks augmentation and automaton would impact by 2035. Picture: Supplied
The report revealed tasks augmentation and automaton would impact by 2035. Picture: Supplied

It was found this would increase productivity by up to 23 per cent but would come alongside big changes in the composition of the workforce.

The mining and METS industry makes up about 17.5 per cent of the Mackay Isaac Whitsunday region’s workforce.

In 2020, there were more than 7800 miners, 2880 truck drivers and 2500 electricians employed in the mining and METS industry across the region.

Predictions show that by 2030, 19.2 per cent of the total mining workforce roles will be supported by technology and 31.2 per cent will be replaced by technology.

Occupations that will be the hardest hit include miners, where 42.9 per cent will be automatable; fitters, where 49.7 per cent will be automatable and truck drivers, with 58.4 per cent automation.

The future of the mining industry looks very different according to a GW3 report. Photo Tessa Mapstone / South Burnett Times
The future of the mining industry looks very different according to a GW3 report. Photo Tessa Mapstone / South Burnett Times

However by 2024, an additional 765 full-time equivalent jobs are predicted across the region to support the implementation of technology into the mining and METS industry.

While larger mining companies are already implementing change, the effects of automation will also trickle down to smaller businesses.

Among those ahead of the fourth industrial revolution is Mackay Conveyor Equipment, which was established 10 years ago and now employs 30 people.

The business provides conveyor systems and belt-handling to clients with large-scale material handling needs such as the mining and sugar industries.

Managing director Jason Kelly said the company had changed rapidly over the past decade and adopted new technology in a bid to stay competitive and relevant.

Additional jobs in the region needed to support new technologies. Picture: Supplied
Additional jobs in the region needed to support new technologies. Picture: Supplied

“We’re simply using technology to take away the mundane and routine tasks,” he said.

“We’re using a lot of apps and processes that just ensure things get filed in the correct place (and) forms are filled out correctly.

“You go back 30, 40 years ago where there was a dedicated typist … that’s (many) years away now.

“We’re removing a lot of the administrative-type tasks and that is simply market driven, because to be competitive you’ve just got to remove as much of that cost from your business as you can.

“What I’m hoping to do is, by being more efficient and cost effective, that will allow us to win more work which will allow us to bring on more skilled people.”

Automated systems now produce and populate quotes and communication technologies have eased the speed and accuracy of reporting.

Mr Kelly said some workers were resistant to the focus on technology however without it, he said smaller businesses would not survive.

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“You’d just become uncompetitive and your business would fail because you can’t win work,” he said.

“It’s a constant battle anyway, so you’ve got to find some advantage.

“The expectation from our customers for the dollar spent is increasing, so the only way you can do that is to be smarter, we can’t do things the way we did 10 years ago and expect to be competitive.

“The old attitude of working smarter not harder can’t be more appropriate than now.”

Recommendations from the GW3 report addressed this, stating there would need to be more training and education to re-skill workers and help them transition into new roles.

“You’ve just got to get started, and once you do, you’ll kick yourself for not getting involved earlier,” Mr Kelly said.

“Everyone’s just got to learn … to be open to change and improvement because things will not stay the same for very long.”


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