METS Ignited CEO Ric Gros said, with the modern mining workforce undergoing huge transition, it was time for the industry to work smarter to make young people aware of the mining-related careers on offer in Australia and around the world.
Youth research agency YouthInsight surveyed a nationally-representative 1,061 senior high school students and first year university students between the ages of 15 and 20 and found that knowledge of mining careers was "extremely low".
According to the survey, 59% of young people knew nothing at all about mining careers, and only 30% had an interest in a career in the mining or mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sectors.
It also found that low consideration of a mining career was driven by a lack of knowledge, although respondents thought mining and mining services employers were important to the Australian economy (63%), important to the country's future (52%), using leading-edge technology (35%), providing opportunities (35%) and innovative (34%).
"Despite mining and METS providing jobs for 1.1 million Australians - or one in every 10 jobs - and great future prospects for our industry, it's clear that we must do much more to make young people aware about the opportunities and rewards in mining and METS," Gros said.
He added that Australia's METS sector would require many highly-skilled young people to fill future jobs, including drone pilots, environmental and social scientists and engineers.
"The jobs are there - areas of the METS sector such as information and communication technologies and professional and technical services saw 164% job growth between 2005 and 2015," Gros said.
MCA executive director minerals tertiary education council Gavin Lind said innovative technology, such as automation, drones, robotics and artificial intelligence, was changing the face of the modern mining sector.
"This survey helps us understand the career preferences for our future workforce and address some of the misconceptions about a career in Australia's … minerals industry," he said.
He added that the sector's average full-time weekly pay was A$2,610 (US$), 67% higher than the all-industries average.
AusIMM CEO Stephen Durkin said the study would help inform and position the mining industry as a desirable career option for a range of young people, while AusIMM had an education endowment fund that provided students with the support to study towards a minerals industry career and build the professional workforce of the future.
"The future of the resources sector relies on students continuing to be attracted to the immense opportunities for professionals in the minerals industry," he said.
The results of the YouthInSight survey were released at the MCA Minerals Education Summit in Melbourne.