Most people who reside in Western Australia have become familiar with the term FIFO or Fly In Fly Out.  This has been a result of the resources boom in the 1980s which saw a rise in the production of minerals such as iron ore, copper and gold as well as petroleum and natural gas found off shore.  FIFO is a way of recruiting staff to work in these remote areas.  Instead of asking them and their families to live in such isolated locations permanently, employers fly workers in and out to various locations and provide accommodation and recreation for them during their time on site.
The FIFO workforce is comprised of people from all walks of life. There is a wide variety of FIFO jobs for both men and women.  Resources employees, politicians, local government workers and health professionals are just some of the people that might not spring to mind when you think ‘FIFO.’ Nevertheless, all these professionals are proud representatives of the FIFO community.
We dug a little deeper into the FIFO workforce, and unearthed more interesting stats from a few sources including a recent survey of 2500 people working in the resource sector.

What types of people work in the resources sector?

All types of people - resources sector employees and FIFO workers are just like everyone else.

The resources sector workforce is not comprised exclusively of single young men as some would have you believe!

  • The majority of the FIFO workforce is in the 35-54 age group, compared to the majority of resources sector workforce based in Perth who are in the age group 25-44 years.
  • There are few differences between the residential metro, residential regional and FIFO workforces when it comes to being in a relationship or having children - 86% of the workforce is in a relationship, with around 65% having children.
  • 73% of the partners of resources sector workers are employed.
  • Around 20% of the sector’s employees are female.
  • More than 25% of employees are university educated, with another 30% having trades/technical qualifications.

How many people work in the sector?

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics the total resources sector workforce in Western Australia was 96,200 in May 2015. Whilst this number is down from a peak of 122,800 in August 2012, the sector’s workforce has doubled in a decade.

Image used courtesy of BHP Billiton

How many people work FIFO?

It’s estimated that approximately 40% of the workforce worked FIFO a decade ago. This number is closer to 65% in 2015, around 60,000 - 65,000 resources sector employees.

Image used courtesy of BHP Billiton

How long do people work in the resource sector?

The resources industry offers both long and short-term roles, with the majority of employees staying in the industry for over five years. When compared to residential and regional residents in the same industry, FIFO workers typically stay in their positions longer.

Where do FIFO workers come from?

The majority of FIFO employees in Western Australia live in the Perth-Peel Region, accounting for approximately 70% of the workforce. Other WA regions provide about 14%, and employees from interstate contribute approximately another 14%.

Western Australian towns with FIFO workers include Albany, Broome, Busselton, Carnarvon and Geraldton. Other towns such as Manjimup and some Wheatbelt communities are also contributing a FIFO workforce as a means of diversifying their economies and maintaining a sustainable population base.

What types of jobs are available in the resources sector?

Almost every type of job you can imagine - bohth residentially based or FIFO. There are literally dozens of different roles in the resources sectors including engineers,; geologists, tradespeople, machinery operators, accountants, lawyers, administrators and plenty of support and supply chain functions.

The Western Australian resources sector continues to evolve from its construction phase into a sustained period of operations. This has seen the total employment number fall. However, it is important to note the workforce will also change, with a future focus on higher skilled roles, particularly those in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

So, as the need for some roles might decline, plenty of new employment opportunities are opening up in the future.

2015-2025 Resource Sector Outlook

CME Workforce Survey

Workforce Diversity Survey