Random Analytics

Charts, Infographics & Analytics. No Spinning the Data. No Juking the Stats

Month: November, 2012

Random Analytics: Mining Workforce Planning Environmental Scan (Nov 2012)

Here is the latest Australian Mining Workforce Planning Environmental Scan updated to the end of Nov 2012.

MiningEnviroScanNov12

Figure 1: Australian Mining Workforce Planning Environmental Scan 2012 (Jan-Nov). Data sourced from Australian Mining Newsletter & News Archive. Some stories have been verified against primary resources (i.e. ASX, commercial websites and other news agencies).

Like the previous month, the most prominent Workforce Planning story and issue for November was employment. If you look at the data I present in Figure 1 you might consider this was a fait-accompli but the first story on employment (which was positive) didn’t come about until the 7th November and by mid-month only six stories were on the book. Most of the employment stories (19/25), which have been mainly negative, actually came about in the second half of the month.

This is the fifth straight month where employment stories have dominated. In the month of November there were 25 unique employment stories, with 18 being negative (with 1,071 confirmed jobs losses) and 7-positive stories (1,237 confirmed jobs gained).

The further breakdown of Employment stories for July through to November (as per the yellow data line):

  • July: 25.9% (61.9% negative, 38.1% positive);
  • Aug: 35.4% (71.4% negative, 28.6% positive);
  • Sep: 44.8% (76.9% negative, 17.9% positive and 5.2% neutral);
  • Oct: 35.8% (83.3% negative, 16.7% positive);
  • Nov: 32.9% (72% negative, 28 % positive).

The updated data really does show an industry trying to do any last tidying up prior to the Christmas break. 35-jobs gone at Grasstree, QLD and the 13-jobs lost at Bengalla, NSW are good examples of mid-tier and large companies cutting labour costs. What should be added is that I have not seen a lot of stories in relation to the contracting companies and their labour issues. No doubt they wouldn’t like this information in the public sphere.

A better idea of what the Australian mining industry employment story has been like at a macro level will become apparent when the ABS updates its Labour Force, Detailed data to include changes which occurred in the Sep – Nov period.

MiningEnviroScanNov12Data

Table 1: Data for Australian Mining Workforce Planning Environmental Scan Nov 2012. Data sourced from Australian Mining Newsletter & News Archive. Some stories have been verified against primary resources (i.e. ASX, commercial websites and other news agencies).

Work Health & Safety (WH&S) returns to around its long-term average (currently 22.7%) with 17-stories which reflected 13-injuries and two deaths. The Cessnock man who died just kilometres from his home drifted off the road where he crashed into a parked car. One of the items that have become apparent in my research this year has been the large amount of deaths of miners driving to or from work, which also has to call into question the fatigue management plans of miners and their contracting companies plus the state of our roads which connects our mines to our modern day miners.

Industrial Relations (IR) had the third highest tally this month but at eight stories (10.5%) has almost decreased by a third from its half-year average of 15.5%. This has to be due to the post EOFY year crash in commodity prices. One thing to watch, especially in 2013 will be the increased uptake in union membership amongst mining communities, who for the first time are under employment security pressures.

My pick of the month for November goes to The WestBusiness story about the recent cuts in the Mining sector impacting on the gender gains in recent years. The data from my own research also shows the retraction on softer Workforce Planning issues with Work Life Fit (Balance) averaging just 0.7% since July, Skills Shortages 1.1% and Diversity (incl. of all diversity issues) the highest on a low 1.4%.

Random Analytics: Abbott’s Promise

On the 25th October I posted a blog titled “Romney’s Promise” which detailed some of the history and issues around one of the Republicans key election objectives, that is in their first term they would create 4-million new jobs for Americans.

I was a bit surprised to hear that in the past day Tony Abbott, the Australian Liberal leader made an announcement which stated:

The next Coalition Government will create one million jobs in five years and two million jobs in 10 years,” he said. “This pledge is achievable given our record and policies.

Now I’m all for job creation and the sentiment behind this statement is a positive projection from the leader of opposition but there are a number of issues here, no matter who forms the next Australian government.

Figure 1: Australian Employment gains & losses by month. Data sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The first point I would like to make is the outstanding jobs creation journey that Australia has been on since the ABS commenced capturing the data and making it accessible to the public. Of the 416 available months of data only 51 months (12.26%) has reflected an overall employment loss, month-on-month. In fact if you look at Figure 1 you will see that since January 1993 we have actually only had 11-months of negative employment (or just 4.62%).

For Tony Abbott to realise his goal of creating 1,000,000 new jobs in just five years he would first need to serve two back-to-back terms. He would then need to create more than 16,700-jobs per month. If he wanted to do this in one complete term he would need to serve the maximum time (three years and 140-days) which would equate to a job creation program of 25,000 persons in any form of employment per month consecutively over 40-months.

Continuing to look at the data contained in Figure 1 this would be a historic feat. In the past 35-years (or to be exact 416-months) the Australian economy has only ever put on more than 25,000-jobs in a month 82-times (19.71%) and only lost more than 25,000-jobs on 4-occassions (0.96%). The last time we were negative by that amount was March 1991! The longest consecutive gain of more than 25,000-jobs per month were in Sep 1988 – Jul 1989 (11-months and 328,000 jobs) while the most recent was May to Nov 2010 (7-months and 235,000 jobs).

But Tony Abbott didn’t state he wanted to create 1-million jobs in just five years, he actually wants to create 2-million jobs over ten years. So who is he creating these jobs for?

Figure 2: Australian Unemployment 1978 – 2012. Data sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Well, it’s not for the unemployed. As shown in Figure 2, we currently only have 652,700 people looking for some form of work at the moment. At the height of the mining boom in March 2008 there were just 465,800 people looking for work and at our worst point in September 1993 around 946,900 of us were looking for a job.

Even if a new Coalition government could employ every currently unemployed person in this country he would still need to fill the 1.35-million new jobs that he wants to create.

Where would he find these numbers?

The answer lies in the Australian working population figures.

Figure 3: Australia’s working population (15 – 67 years of age). Data sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

In the past 40-years Australia’s working population has increased from 8.48-million to 15.64-million. Traditionalists would only include the 15-65 year age cohort but since our superannuation system is moving officially to the 67-year figure by 2018 I’ve included the extra 396,082 estimated people of that age in my count.

The Rudd/Gillard governments were elected from September 2007 and during their tenure they have added 870,400 jobs to the economy. What they will not say is that over the past 40-years the Australian economy has required, on average, an extra 179,000 new jobs created to employ all of the new entrants into the workforce. So, for the Rudd/Gillard governments to have actually increased the amount of working people in Australia, they would have needed to actually create 895,000 new jobs plus one.

So for Tony Abbot to meet his figure and create new jobs he would need to add 16,667 new roles to meet his promise while also adding 14,916 to keep up with the average amount of new entrants into the workforce.

But Tony didn’t say ‘new’ jobs did he. He said ‘jobs’.

Given that he would first need to find 1,790,000 jobs for new entrants during his first 10-years in power he is only left having to then create 210,000 ‘new’ jobs to decrease the numbers of either unemployed (currently at 652,700) or non-participatory segments of the community. With an Australian participation rate of just 65.1% this would be a potential 7.8-million people you could look to assist back to employment. For those of you who work in this difficult policy area, a much easier thing to say than to accomplish.

In reality the creation of 1-million “new” jobs over the next two parliaments would be almost an impossible figure to achieve. Looking at the history this target has just never been achieved and as the Rudd/Gillard figures demonstrate creating 870,400-jobs during the Global Financial Crisis, although an excellent result compared to other countries such as Greece, did not even keep up with the demand from new entrants let alone increase the overall capacity of all Australians to be employed. Looking at what both sides of politics say about job creation just shows that by being a little bit tricky in language you can say almost anything about job creation because the subject is complex.

Robert McNamara summed it up much better than I when he wrote in One Hundred Countries, Two Billion People (1974) “A treadmill economy tends to emerge, in which the total national effort will exhaust itself by running faster and faster merely to stand still”.

Update 1 (5/12/2012): Greg Jericho (aka @grogsgamut) added a very detailed piece of analysis titled “A million new jobs ain’t what it used to be” via his weekly ABC The Drum blog. It’s good work and definitely worth taking a look at.

Random Analytics: Modern Soldiering

When Fredrick Winslow-Taylor wrote his great treatise, published in 1911, on “The Principles of Scientific Management”, he spent a significant amount of time explaining how “soldiering” impacted on the management and efficiency of the trades. Although his explanation covers many pages I felt the more impactful quote(s) included the following:

The English and American peoples are the greatest sportsmen in the world. Whenever an American workman plays baseball, or an English workman plays cricket, it is safe to say that he strains every nerve to secure victory for his side. He does his very best to make the largest possible number of runs.

The universal sentiment is so strong that any man who fails to give out all there is in him in sport is branded as a “quitter” and treated with contempt by those who are around him.

When the same workman returns to work on the following day, instead of using every effort to turn out the largest possible amount of work, in a majority of cases this man deliberately plans to do as little as he safely to turn out far less work than he is well able to do in many instances to do not more than one-third to one-half of a proper day’s work…

Under working, that is, deliberately working slowly so as to avoid doing a full day’s work, “soldiering,” as it is called in this country, “hanging it out,” as it is called in England, “ca canae,” as it is called in Scotland, is almost universal in industrial establishments, and prevails also to a large extent in the building trades; and the writer asserts without fear of contradiction that this constitutes the greatest evil with which the working-people of both England and America are now afflicted.

Over a hundred years have passed since Fredrick wrote those passages and nine months after finalising a six month deployment to Canberra where I worked with a Commonwealth department it struck me recently how much the world has changed, and yet, remains the same.

A recent article by Fiona Smith articulated the issue utilising research from the RMIT’s Iain Campbell in which they found that many Australian’s were working up to an additional 10-weeks per annum.

Looking at the very high level data provided in the most recent Australian census shows that 45.3% of Australians worked more than 40-hours a week, even with the Fair Work Australia limitation of a 38-hour cap on working hours.

Table 1: Australian Employment Hours Worked. Data sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2011 Census).

Modern “soldiering” is not about trying to find the slowest route to take a wheel-barrow up a hill, nor the pacing of a caddy so as to extract as much profit from his (or her) client. The ‘trades’ are no longer the greatest body afflicted by the disease of “soldiering”; it’s the modern office environment.

Modern “soldiering” is all about being seen to be busy. In my most recent Workforce Planning assignment (with a Commonwealth Agency) a not un-common opening discussion might go something like this…

“So how was work today?”

“Gosh, I got in this morning and I had 100-emails to answer, then two meetings, one of which was unscheduled then after lunch I was on the phones…”

Often, actual output is never mentioned. If we have a hard look at the modern office worker, output is actually hard to define and in some cases so amorphous as to be impossible to measure. So, the answer for many is to always seem busy, always a moving target to avoid closer inspection. It doesn’t matter that working long and inefficiently is detrimental to the business (and to the individual) because the point here is to create the illusion of work rather than completing defined outcomes. Often efficiency in highly bureaucratic organisations can be treated like a virus by other workers until the more efficient worker is driven out.

Modern “soldiering” is also defined by the ownership of 24/7 technology. Rather than create efficiencies these gadgets, from the humble mobile through to the most connected tablet are tools of control creating unnecessary levels of oversight and input rather than allowing delegated staff at level to make decisions without a double or even triple check. Who would have thought those odd guys in the 1980’s with those brick like phones would take over the world, zombie style!

It also isn’t enough to be busy at the office. Access to modern technology allows the modern office worker to be “soldiering” throughout the evening and into the weekend. Once again, efficiency is not crucial here, just the perception of being on the ball all of the time.

Modern “soldiering” is most often found in highly bureaucratised organisations, where inefficiencies can be resource levelled across many employee’s and is usually overlooked in the search for productivity gains. Concentrations of the affliction can occur in any part of the business but are more likely to happen in the middle management, administration or enabling functions.

One final note, for which Fredrick Winslow-Taylor (and the worker of 1911) might have found ironic and amusing.

The modern office worker today will be more likely to be completing a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) project or playing golf on the weekend when not answering that all important phone call or answering that ‘can’t wait’ email. They wouldn’t be looking for the slowest route for the wheel-barrow or playing their round of golf on a go-slow.

No, they’d be completing these tasks as efficiently as possible so they could go back to work and continue to ‘soldier’.

For the record: This is a revised and updated article which I authored and posted for HR.com on the 10th March 2012.

Random Analytics: RDAF Funding Analysis

On the 1st November it was announced that the third and fourth rounds of the Regional Development Australia Fund were opened.

As per the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport website the details of the next two rounds of funding are:

Round Three will provide $50 million for projects in small towns, while Round Four will provide $175 million for strategic infrastructure projects in regional Australia.

  • Round 3 will support small towns (population of less than 30,000) with $50 million in grant funding to be provided.
  • Round 4 will support strategic infrastructure projects and is modelled on the successful Rounds One and Two. $175 million in grant funding will be provided.

Given that the next $225 million of funding is now available I thought it would be useful to do some analysis on the approximately $350 million that has already been approved. I have taken great pains to present the following detail in a completely neutral way, utilising only publically sourced information but it should be noted that all analysis and views expressed are my own and do not reflect that of any employer or organisation that I am associated with.

The first graph is a representation of the Expressions of Interest (EOI) for Rounds 1 and Round 2 split between accepted (green) & rejected (maroon). Although the amount of applications for Round 1 was well documented I couldn’t find a Department released document which confirmed the Round 2 numbers, thus I had to physically count the EOI’s by Regional Development Australia region then added three applications which were rejected by the Department due to duplication. The biggest item worth noting from this graph is the sheer weight of applications which resulted in a low acceptance rate (just 6.33% for Round 1 and 9.96% for Round 2).

Figure 1: RDAF Round 1 & 2 Expressions of Interest. Data sourced from the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport.

The next round of graphs includes breakdowns by State and Territory. It should be noted that the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) received no funding in this round.

Figure 2: RDAF Round 1 Grants by State or Territory. Data sourced from the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport.

In Round 2 there was $199.76-million of funding grants available. Again it should be noted that the ACT did not receive any funding in this round.

Figure 3: RDAF Round 2 Grants by State or Territory. Data sourced from the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport.

The final State graph is the total amount of funding won in Round 1 and 2 by each state.

Figure 4: RDAF Round 1 and 2 Grants by State or Territory (combined). Data sourced from the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport.

The next set of graphs breaks down the funding by the size of the town, city or regional centre that it is being deployed in. I broke the size of towns into five categories:

  • Town: A town or a rural region with a population under 10,000
  • Large Town: A town, small city or rural region with a population between 10,001 and 30,000
  • City: A city or regional centre with a population between 30,001 and 100,000
  • Large City: A city with a population between 100,001 and 500,000
  • Very Large City: Effectively Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth

Figure 5: RDAF Round 1 Grants by population size. Data sourced from the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (where required data was also sourced from individual council’s websites for additional verification).

Figure 6: RDAF Round 2 Grants by population size. Data sourced from the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (where required data was also sourced from individual council’s websites for additional verification).

Figure 7: RDAF Round 1 and 2 Grants by population size (combined). Data sourced from the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (where required data was also sourced from individual council’s websites for additional verification).

Because Hobart and Darwin both fall under the Very Large City definition I thought it useful to capture funding for all capital cities as compared to non-Capital cities. I’ve defined the Capital Cities limits in line with the Australian Bureau of Statistics Greater Capital City Statistical Area.

Figure 8: RDAF Round 1 by Capital City. Data sourced from the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Figure 9: RDAF Round 2 by Capital City. Data sourced from the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Figure 10: RDAF Round 1 and 2 by Capital City (combined). Data sourced from the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The next set of graphs show the break-down of funding by political party. For the conservative side I have coded the different variations of the Liberal Party as either Liberal, Liberal National Queensland and in the NT the Country Liberal Party. All three variants are blue. The Australian Labor Party is represented in maroon, the National Party is yellow (this includes funding received in the seat of O’Conner) and Independents are brown. No funding in either Round 1 or Round 2 was received by a seat held by the Australian Greens.

Figure 11: RDAF Round 1 by Political Party. Data sourced from the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Australian Electoral Commission and Antony Green’s Election Blog.

Figure 12: RDAF Round 2 by Political Party. Data sourced from the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Australian Electoral Commission and Antony Green’s Election Blog.

Figure 13: RDAF Round 1 and 2 by Political Party (combined). Data sourced from the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Australian Electoral Commission and Antony Green’s Election Blog.

I then looked at how much funding went to marginal seats and I drew my definition of such a seat from the Australian Electoral Commission. In the next series of graphs I have broken the pie into three segments, that is those seats which are safe (more than 60% 2PP), those that are fairly safe (56 – 60% 2PP) and those that are marginal (50 – 56% 2PP).

Figure 14: RDAF Round 1 by 2PP margin percentile. Data sourced from the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Australian Electoral Commission and Antony Green’s Election Blog.

Figure 15: RDAF Round 2 by 2PP margin percentile. Data sourced from the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Australian Electoral Commission and Antony Green’s Election Blog.

Figure 16: RDAF Round 1 by 2 by 2PP margin percentile. Data sourced from the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Australian Electoral Commission and Antony Green’s Election Blog.

The second last series of graphs that I will present will be top-12 recipients of grants by electorate.

Figure 17: RDAF Round 1 by electorate (top-12 only). Data sourced from the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Australian Electoral Commission and Antony Green’s Election Blog.

Figure 18: RDAF Round 2 by electorate (top-12 only). Data sourced from the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Australian Electoral Commission and Antony Green’s Election Blog.

Figure 19: RDAF Round 1 and 2 by electorate (top-12 only). Data sourced from the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Australian Electoral Commission and Antony Green’s Election Blog.

Finally, the last set of graphs is the top-12 recipients by Regional Development Australia area.

Figure 20: RDAF Round 1 by RDA (top-12 only). Data sourced from the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport.

Figure 21: RDAF Round 2 by RDA (top-12 only). Data sourced from the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport.

Figure 22: RDAF Round 2 by RDA (top-12 only). Data sourced from the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport.

When the next two rounds of funding get announced (from 7 June 2013) I should be in a position to update both the Round 3 & Round 4 series plus the combined 4 rounds of RDAF funding as per the current views.

Update 1 (26/11/12): On Thursday 22 (November 2012) I made an email enquiry to the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport to request a confirmed number of grant requests for RDAF Round 2. Here is the response from the Department received on Monday (26 November 2012).

Hi Shane

Thank you for your enquiry regarding the Regional Development Australia Fund (RDAF).

Applications received by the Department in Round Two have not been published. Outcomes only have been advised publically by the Minister.

In the Forward to the Round Three Guidelines, it states that Rounds One and Two of the RDAF have provided $350 million to support 81 projects with a total value of $1.2 billion.

The ANAO report on The Design and conduct of the first Application Round for the Regional Development Australia Fund, tabled in September 2012 provides more detailed statistics for Round One.

Thank you for contacting us with your query.

Kind regards

Random Analytics: Mining Workforce Planning Environmental Scan (Oct 2012)

Here is the latest Australian Mining Workforce Planning Environmental Scan updated to the end of October 2012.

Figure 1: Australian Mining Workforce Planning Environmental Scan 2012 (Jan-Oct). Data sourced from Australian Mining Newsletter & News Archive. Some stories have been verified against primary resources (i.e. ASX, commercial websites and other news agencies).

In the words of Tony Abbot, this will be more of a python squeeze than a cobra strike. I’m not talking about carbon tax though but a slow reversal in mining employment over recent months.

The most prominent Workforce Planning story and issue for October was employment. This is now the fourth month where employment stories have dominated and as the data shows, it’s been mainly negative. In the month of October there were 17 unique negative employment stories with 1,294 jobs lost and only one positive story with an employment gain of 300.

The further breakdown of Employment stories for July through to October (as per the yellow data line):

  • July: 25.9% (61.9% negative, 38.1% positive);
  • Aug: 35.4% (71.4% negative, 28.6% positive);
  • Sep: 44.8% (76.9% negative, 17.9% positive and 5.2% neutral);
  • Oct: 35.8% (83.3% negative, 16.7% positive).

The trend over the past four months has been of an industry looking to cut costs and delay operations. Since July there have been 3,597 new jobs gained against 7,196 lost. So for every job created there are at least two that now no longer exist. Given that the Australian industry data will be updated by the ABS for the Sep – Nov period shortly I can confidently predict that there will be a drop in quarterly mining employment for the first time since May-Jul 2009. What I can’t predict will be how large the drop in employment will be. If the general news media is detailing an approximate 3,500 loss then the actual numbers may be around twice that (comparable to the losses in the first two quarters of 2009).

Also of note for October was a high concentration of positive Engagement stories, represented by the maroon data line (making up 16.4% of all Workforce Planning stories with 72.7% of those positive). This came about because of a number of industry conferences promoting mining and two CFMEU campaigns, including the advocacy for sustainable mining and employment in the Tarkine region of Tasmania.

Table 1: Data for Australian Mining Workforce Planning Environmental Scan Oct 2012. Data sourced from Australian Mining Newsletter & News Archive. Some stories have been verified against primary resources (i.e. ASX, commercial websites and other news agencies).

Also coming in at 16.4% was Work Health & Safety (WH&S) although there was a greater balance between negative stories (which reflected near-misses, injuries or death) against neutral or positive articles. Included in this months WH&S data is the tragic story of Warren Black, killed in a worksite accident in Rutherford, NSW. WH&S stories have now averaged 22.9% for the first 10-months of 2012 and the lower October figure is more a reflection of the negative employment environment dominating the headlines.

On that note, I’ll leave you with my pick of the October stories, which is a bit dark and somewhat of a mystery at sea. The coal ship Sage Sagittarius docked in Newcastle, Australia in the past week with its recently boarded safety inspector deceased, the third such death on the ship since mid-September!