Building a better mining workforce for the future
More than 80 practitioners convened in late April to tackle and make progress in dealing with the mining industry’s main human resource issues. The Canadian Human Resource Mining Leadership and Professionals Conference was held at York University’s Schulich School of Business in Toronto. Joining industry leaders and expert panelists in the seminars were students from the Schulich Global Mining Management MBA program.
“This symposium was held for mining sector human resource leaders and professionals to share ideas and work on solutions to workforce specific issues in the mineral sector,” said conference organizer Geoff Ramey, vice-president human resources & business technology solutions for St Andrew Goldfields. The event combined the use of keynote speakers, expert exchanges, roundtable discussions, comedy and networking to work on important topics.
Key issues examined included retention of vital personnel, leadership gaps, cost containment, career promotion, workforce planning and competing cultures in joint ventures and merger and acquisition transactions. Other topics involved diversity of the workforce, change management, attracting skilled workers, knowledge transfer and the expectations of the next generation of mining industry employees.
With the cyclical nature of mining and the usual swings in the fortunes of companies and commodities, MiHR (Mining Industry Human Resource Council) anticipates the industry nationally, with pending retirements, could require a cumulative total of 145,000 new employees in the next decade. Meeting these needs varies by job category but the largest shortfall could be in the trades and production areas.
Interactive sessions involved topics such as workforce planning, the outlook for mining talent, developing industry leaders for the future, succession planning, global benefits and the use of recognition and rewards to more productively engage employees. Ideas on how to better manage these issues were discussed and the need for accurate and timely communications became part of every session.
Participants in the conference were predominantly human resource experts from Ontario Mining Association member companies. Also, OMA manager of communications Peter McBride provided an update on association activities and issues for participants.
The success of the Canadian Human Resource Mining Leadership and Professionals Conference is a testament to the growth of a grass-roots group of human resource professionals in the Canadian mineral industry. It was formed five years ago to address common issues and trends. It is a professional development collective, which takes a collaborative approach to dealing with resolving common sector challenges and sharing successes and best practices.
The mining industry’s current human resource concerns aren’t going to go away by themselves. However, they are on the radar screens of industry human resource experts who are diligently working individually and collectively to find solutions and strengthen the industry in the future.