NORCAT’s Don Duval talks technology and talent
NORCAT is on the forefront of two of the most important challenges for mining – technology and talent. The Sudbury, Ont.-based mining innovation centre connects the buyers and sellers of new technology and provides skills training for the industry. In a featured address at Canadian Mining Journal’s Reimagine Mining Symposium, NORCAT CEO Don Duval noted that technology and talent are closely linked.
Mining companies often think of emerging technology “as mechanisms to improve productivity, shareholder value, competitiveness, safety, etc.,” Duval said. However, with a shortage of workers in the mining sector that is only going to get worse (the Mining Industry Human Resources Council of Canada estimates the industry will need more than 100,000 new workers in the next decade), mining employees have more leverage and more power over their working conditions.
Younger generations in particular may be more open to operating an LHD if they’re able to use a tele-remote system in an urban centre, for instance.
“Winning the battle for talent isn’t necessarily rooted anymore in compensation. I would argue, based on what we’re seeing, that you can actually pay that prospect of worker a bit less, if they can operate with a bit more flexibility from the creature comforts of their own home (or office) operating that LHD.”
Duval also noted that NORCAT’s supervisor training program is the busiest it’s ever been because companies realize it can help them retain talent.
“In surveys that we’ve done, it is the number one indicator to determine if someone will stay or go. People join a company because of the company, people leave a company because of their supervisor or colleagues,” Duval said. “People want to work for someone that motivates and inspires them.”
Duval also touched on the “outsourced innovation model” that has emerged in mining as the sector has migrated from a builder of technology to a buyer over the last few decades.
“You’ve seen a huge growth in the capital markets to support the supply service tech ecosystem because mining has become the buyers.”