Attracting the attention of tomorrow’s employees
Mining is big business, with a long and profitable history in Ontario.However, what is needed right now is a solid recruitment program to attract young men and women into the industry. The Ontario Mining Association and others in the industry including the Mineral Industry Human Resources Council (MiHR) are striving to build such a program.
With about 400 different job types available, most of them requiring high technical skills and offering above average wages and benefits, the sector has a lot to offer someone just beginning their career. But that message has to be delivered to the right audience– students at the grade school and high school level–so they can plan their education to prepare for a future in mining. With this in mind, the OMA has produced an educational video for
students at the Grade
7 to 9 level, and is partnering with Skills Canada Ontario to include mining jobs as some of the attractive choices presented to high school students.
Fun video–many messages
You’re in grade 8 and you think it would be really cool to visit an underground mine, but your teacher doesn’t have the budget for that field trip. Bummer! But that is no longer a problem, because a virtual tour is available at the touch of a remote control, in the form of a high quality animated film called NickelQuest.
Back in 2005 the Ontario Mining Association’s board of directors provided the budget for the video, with technical and financial assistance from the Nickel Institute. The basic concept was refined by working with teachers and curriculum co-ordinators, who indicated that an educational resource for Grade 7 to 9 students would be welcome as a complement to components of the curriculum.
The OMA Virtual Mine Tour Advisory Panel was created to get the project off the ground, with representation from the mining industry, education and government. Its members all shared a history of involvement in natural resources, earth science and mining education.
The incredible job of translating the thoughts and concepts for NickelQuest into reality was carried out by Karen Mayfield and her creative team at eSolutions Group in Waterloo, Ont. Great care was taken to ensure the technical accuracy of the virtual mine tour. The video producers had a real-life tour of one of Vale Inco’s underground nickel mines in Sudbury as part of their preparation. Consultations with educators assisted with the appropriate vocabulary for this age group and the right approach.
While the story is funky–about a Buddhist-like monk’s search for his personal holy grail (a singing ‘spork’) that takes him to Sudbury–the 19-minute video packs in a lot of positive messages accompanied by a great sound track. It provides the link from mining activity to the products students use everyday, and it shows why mining is important to us all. The video also aims to give students a realistic view of the broad scope of safe, high-tech career opportunities that the mining industry offers. An overall goal is to provide students with balanced information about modern mining in order to better equip them to make informed decisions.
The OMA Virtual Mine Tour Advisory Panel has acknowledged the contributions of the Grade 8 students and the teachers from Jessie Hamilton Public School and Copper Cliff Public School in the Rainbow District School Board.They were the first to see NickelQuest at its June 2007 launch at the Dynamic Earth’s Atlas Copco Theatre in Sudbury. In addition, the advisory panel thanked Sofia Gallagher, curriculum co-ordinator (7-12) Science and Technology Studies, Rainbow District School Board, for being instrumental in steering the group in the right direction.
Ten thousand copies of NickelQuest have been distributed to teachers in the province, and the video can also be downloaded at www.oma.on.ca. In a small way, the OMA hopes the video will inform students about the hundreds of career possibilities the mining industry offers.
One way to promote technology and trades to students
The Ontario Mining Association’s Education and Outreach Committee is working with Skills Canada Ontario to help iPodtoting high school students tune into the reality that the mining industry offers a full spectrum of rewarding, highly- skilled, highly- paid job opportunities.
” Skills Canada Ontario is a key partner with the Ontario Mining Association in helping to increase the awareness of jobs available in the province’s mining sector,” said OMA president Chris Hodgson. ” Skills Canada Ontario has a highly enthusiastic and dedicated staff, which is making a difference in our schools. In supporting this group, the OMA is investing in the future of its members, the future of young people and the future prosperity of the province.”
” Mining in Ontario is a $ 9- billion- plus industry that offers about 400 different job types,” added Hodgson. ” However, the sector is facing a wave of anticipated retirements over the next decade and nationally there could be openings for about 80,000 skilled workers over that timeframe.”
Skills Canada Ontario, which opened its doors in 1989, is a not- for- profit organization with a mandate to promote careers in the skilled trades and technologies as viable, firstchoice employment options for young people in Ontario.More than 600,000 students benefit from the programs and activities that Skills Canada Ontario facilitates. It works through partnerships with industry, government and labour.
The OMA is involved in a three-year agreement with Skills Canada Ontario to support the work of liaison officers making presentations in schools, to support the publication of and present mining-related trades in the SKILLS WORK! book (which profiles a variety of skilled trades), and to promote mining involvement and general awareness of the technological skills competitions.
In 2007, the Skills Canada Ontario technological skills competition had 54 contests and it attracted an audience of 25,000 participants and spectators. Through the efforts of the OMA Education and Outreach Committee, the mining industry will have a strong presence at the 2008 technological skills competition event and be involved in a careers exploration showcase.
The 2008 edition of the SKILLS WORK! book, which has a press run of about 150,000 copies, will feature six mining career profiles. While the previous edition of this book, which is published in English and French, contained profiles of 39 skilled trades, the new edition will also dedicate pages to jobs such as a production miner, mine technologist, geological technician, instrumentation and remote control technician, health and safety technician and environmental technician. While Jules Verne’s famous novel Journey to the Centre of the Earth is fiction, Amy Laforge has a non-fiction job that takes her toward the centre of the planet every working day. This 23-year-old is a geological technologist working at Xstrata Copper’s Kidd Creek mine in Timmins, Ont., which is the deepest base metal mine in the world. Her work regularly takes her approximately 3 km below the surface.
Laforge began her post-secondary education at Cambrian College in Sudbury, Ont., when she was 17.Within three years, she had collected two diplomas–geological engineering technician and geological engineering technologist. Amy, who is bilingual in French and English, attended cole Secondaire Catholique Theriault in Timmins. Her favourite subjects were mathematics, chemistry, physics and geography. She was on the honour role at high school and managed to garner some math awards.
“While I like the advanced computer work like AutoCAD, using my hands and going underground is what I really enjoy,” said Laforge. “I was a bit nervous at first coming to work here, thinking that mining is a man’s wor
ld, however, I like being a trailblazer and I was treated well and with respect.After about two weeks, I felt very comfortable. It took a little while, but now the company has coveralls in my size.
“If someone is outgoing and is interested in the hands-on aspects of geology and has a sense of adventure, I would encourage them to try this work,” said Laforge. “The mining industry needs skilled employees, and this is the type of job that literally can take you anywhere in the world.”
Perhaps combined efforts such as these by the OMA and Skills Canada Ontario will help to encourage more young people like Laforge to consider employment options in the skilled trades and technology areas and, of course, mining.
Peter McBride is manager of communications at the Ontario Mining Association.
He can be reached at 416-364-9301 or [email protected].