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Advantages and Disadvantages of FIFO work

Ever wondered if FIFO work is for you? We’ve been doing our research and have come up with 6 advantages and disadvantages of FIFO work in Australia. If you’ve ever wondered if FIFO work is the step in your career you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s dive in!

 What FIFO is like in Australia

Have you ever heard of FIFO? Nope, it’s not a new alien spaceship that landed on planet Earth, nor the new found friend of Nemo (the fish). It’s actually more than that. 

To those who are new in this field, FIFO simply means “Fly In, Fly Out.” FIFO jobs are those which involve employees being flown to their workplace for the duration of a contract before being flown back to a preferred location, and is one of the most popular working arrangements chosen by young trades professionals in Australia. FIFO rosters come in many different shapes and sizes, one example might be a 7-14 day roster of 12-hour shifts, followed by the same duration for rest. Some examples are: tradesperson, hospitality roles, nurses, driller, mechanic, and mining – the most in demand of all.

Did you know that one Western Australia leads the world when it comes to the use of FIFO mine employees? The Australian State currently has between 6,000 and 7,000 interstate FIFO workers employed in its massive mining sector. 

There are approximately 60,000 FIFO workers in Australia and this is fuelled by the large resource sector in the country. With a strong demand for our exports, many mining companies require a huge workforce in remote areas. In the country, because most FIFO work is done in the mines, the biggest opportunities are in Western Australia. While there are many jobs in Perth, you can also find work on the other side of the country. Islands like the Whitsundays have a huge demand for FIFO workers, especially in the hospitality sector. Outside of mining, luxurious resorts are always on the lookout for kitchen staff who can fly in, fly out.

Are you up for a FIFO arrangement?

Skilled trades require special skills, abilities, knowledge, and is a hands-on job. Although it is the most in demand employer-employee arrangement in most countries, FIFO has a set of requirements that go outside the normal 9-5. In fact, Trade Skills Australia offer skills assessment and recognition services for qualifications in fabrication and mechanical engineering such as: Certificate in Engineering Fabrication Trade – in boilermaking, sheet metal working, welding, surface finishing, and many more. If you’re a skilled worker but are still not qualified, this is the best place to start as Trade Skills Australia is the best RPL provider in Australia to get you qualified to enter the FIFO workforce fast.

The Pros and Cons of FIFO Work

Just like any other job, FIFO has its own share of manageable to difficult expectations. For example, one hard truth is FIFO work considerably diminishes your social life as you work about 84 hours a week and are, obviously, away from your family and friends. We’ve come up with six  advantages and disadvantages of being a FIFO worker that will help anyone considering the FIFO life:

Advantages being a FIFO worker

  • Tempting generous compensation – the FIFO experience is lucrative and rewarding as it not only provides your personal salary, but also your personal expenses like travel, accommodation, and more.
  • Consistent rotation system – if you work 6 days straight, you’ll typically get 6 days straight of rest after. This method has been the very gist of FIFO to keep the work-life balance an employee deserves.
  • Freedom and flexibility in your work location – you can live where you choose. Mining companies have been considerate to both current and potential FIFO workers by willingly allowing them to choose from a wide-range of locations. Bottomline is, working FIFO means that even if you change mining jobs, you probably won’t have to relocate your family or move away from home. If you’re a nature lover, then this is perfect for you!
  • There’s a distinction between work and home – balance, in terms of time, is one of the best assets in the FIFO community. It recognizes the value of your time for your family and friends. They can even extend it for you!
  • Growth is essential to anyone’s career path – as a FIFO worker, this will be lavishly offered to you as bigger opportunities are possible. Once you’ve proved yourself, there is the potential to move into another job or area. If it’s knowledge and career development you’re after, the mining industry is a great place to seek it out.
  • The work environment and facilities are generally well planned – depending on your company’s location, most FIFO sites are equipped with their own gyms, basketball courts, swimming pools, and internet connections. Yup, you’ve read that right. This is to provide accessible comfort to all workers – for FREE.

Disadvantages being a FIFO worker

  • Shift hours can be super long – as long as 12 hours straight and sometimes, even more. Given its strategic and challenging locations, FIFO work could be exhaustingly demanding. This could be the most daunting challenge one can face when venturing in this industry. Add night shift into the mix and fatigue becomes a huge factor.
  • The long distance relationship between friends and family could leave great emotional implications. On top of that, when a FIFO worker comes home they are often very tired for the first few days so they don’t often have the energy for their social life. If they’re flying home from a night shift, their exhaustion levels are considerably higher.
  • Mental health at play – with burnout and sleep deprivation due to the long hours of work plus the inaccessible family and friends, feeling isolated and depressed is not uncommon for FIFO workers. Since the work environment has its fixed routine, the repetitive adaptation could lead to psychological distress.
  • Most sites are remote, so it is expected that FIFO workers are more exposed to harsh environments such as: extreme temperatures, dust, pests and harsh terrains.
  • Inconsistency in body clock adaptation is very tiring, but necessary. Besides adapting to the work shifts, a FIFO worker also needs to adjust to the life and work set up.
  • As mentioned before, social life is technically impossible for a FIFO worker’s plate. Aside from the distance, the long hours makes it impossible to organize or even attend social events.

Where to start for getting FIFO work in Australia

If you’ve finally decided that you want to give this a go, one way is to apply to work in the Shutdown environment.

Another way is to start in general services and work your way up to your desired qualification level.

Another way is to simply get qualified through RPL and then apply for the job you’re qualified to do.

You can also enter the FIFO workforce through apprenticeships, but if you’ve been a trade assistant for 5+ years you can contact TSA about getting qualified so you can get straight to the role you’re meant to have.

Go to trade shows and expos and talk to the people in the stalls. Get to know who’s in HR or in the department you want to work for and build a relationship with them.

Research, figure out which company you want to work for and get really familiar with their values and business goals. The better you understand these, the more chance you have of landing a job.

Bottomline

There is no such thing as a perfect job. Venturing into “FIFO life” has its own pros and cons, but if you’re willing to be away from home, then you could easily manage and balance strong relationships with your family and loved ones. As we put it, it will be your home away from home. So, before you commit, make sure you’re prepared for what your new home will look like.

Is it time to get the job you want with the qualification you need? Contact us and find out how we can help you today!

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