Canadian Mining Journal


COMMENT: Idea from Down Under needs to come Up North

Canadian veterans make skilled and talented employees that could diminish the looming labour shortages in the mining industry. (Image:

The Australians have a practical and forward-thinking idea: Hire military veterans to meet the looming labour shortage in the mining sector.

Veterans are highly trained and bring diverse skills and talents to the job. Many have a difficult time transitioning to civilian employment when they leave the army, navy or air force. The fact that a few can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and may have trouble holding down jobs leads to high unemployment rates.

An examination of the problem, entitled “Veteran Employment Report,” has just been published by the WithYouWithMe group that deals with re-integrating former military personnel into civilian life. The report shows that veteran unemployment in Australia is about 30.2% – five times higher than the national average! Underemployment – the inability to find work that matches their skills or that pays as much as when they were in the military –  is also high at 19%.

And yet veterans face typical obstacles to meaningful employment. They fail to recognize how their defence skills can suit a civilian job. Employers are nervous about hiring veterans, particularly if a veteran is dealing with PTSD, depression or other “baggage” from his/her time in the service.

As an example, WithYouWithMe points to Fortescue Metals Group. The miner rolled out an initiative to hire current and former military personnel at its operations in the Pilbara. The company created a four-week, trades upskilling program that resulted in the hiring of 51 veterans as heavy diesel mechanics. Forty-one are employed at Christmas Creek and 10 at Cloudbreak.

Fortescue also participated in a national roundtable discussion that attracted several stakeholders from the wider mining, resources and energy sectors. The risks to employers in offering training and development opportunities to veterans is reduced by the military covering indemnity insurance and the requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, at least in Australia.

This writer would like to see Canadian miners make the pro-active choice to seek out and employ veterans. They would be a capable addition to the mineral sector. We hear enough bad news about our men and women in uniform. Now it’s time to make some good news. Bring the Down Under idea Up North.

WithYouWithMe has three offices in Australia, one in the United States and will soon open others in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Fiji. Visit the website at

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1 Comment » for COMMENT: Idea from Down Under needs to come Up North
  1. Canadian employers may want to consider “Helmets to Hardhats”:

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