Tackling mining skills shortages

by 22 Jan 2008

IN ORDER to address skills shortages plaguing the mining industry, companies must reduce their demand on skilled professionals through better use of technology and automation, and increase their supply of talent through a stronger focus on workforce planning and development, according to the Mining Industry Skills Centre.

Speaking on the launch of a new report to tackle skills shortages in the mining industry, Jenny Neumann, manager of strategic development for the Mining Industry Skills Centre said that the most common challenges facing mining companies were an inability to fill roles with people with the desired skills and experience, and misconceptions in the wider community as a result of media coverage of skills shortages.

“These misconceptions lead people to believe that there is a labour shortage rather than a skills shortage and that jobs are available to anyone willing. This is not the case,” Neumann said. “Shortages are primarily in job roles that require a trade or other qualification.”

The industry is now recognising that while company-wide and even mine site-wide strategies are important, Neumann said it is also crucial to work with other companies on strategies to ensure a skilled and sustainable future workforce.

“The role of the HR professional is crucial – not only for traditional HR practices, but also to think laterally and strategically to develop innovative approaches to ensuring a skilled and sustainable workforce,” she said.

“In addition, newer skills in the area of workforce planning and workforce analytics are essential for understanding the extent of current and projected skills shortages for companies.”

Neumann predicted that skills shortages will continue and also possibly extend to a labour shortage, as baby boomers retire and the number of new workforce entrants continues to decrease.


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