OTTAWA – One of Canada’s most productive industrial sectors faces a serious skills shortage in the next decade according to the "Prospecting the Future" study released on Aug. 23.
The Canadian mining industry will need up to 81,000 new people to meet current and future needs and to fill positions vacated by retirees, as revealed by the study. The comprehensive research conducted by the MINING INDUSTRY TRAINING AND ADJUSTMENT COUNCIL CANADA (MITAC) evaluated short- and long-term human resource issues and challenges facing the mining industry.
The study’s findings suggest the industry could lose up to 40% of the existing workforce in the next 10 years. More than half of its current workforce is eligible to retire in the next five to 10 years taking with each of them an average of 21 years of mining sector experience. The largest percentage of workers planning to retire within the next 10 years is in the skilled trades group.
The unprecedented skilled worker shortage is also a result of fewer young people entering mining careers. Despite 26 post-secondary education institutions in Canada providing mining-specific programs, these institutions face a number of challenges including the high cost of technology and equipment for programs and low enrolments. The industry also faces competition from other sectors such as oil sands development and construction, and from industry employers from other countries.
The study also reveals the need for standardized training throughout Canada. Currently, trade certification for mining is not available in Canada. Implementing a Red Seal trades status would encourage national training standards and provide mobility and flexibility for workers.
About the Study: "Prospecting the Future: Meeting Human Resources Challenges in Canada’s Minerals and Metals Sector" is a comprehensive two-and-a-half-year study of the short- and long-term human resource strengths, issues and challenges facing the minerals and metals industry. The study focused on mining activities in exploration, extraction and primary refining (smelting) of non-ferrous metals (excluding aluminum). The study also concentrated on the top 10 minerals and metals by value of production in Canada: gold, nickel, potash, coal, copper, iron ore, cement, zinc, sand/gravel/stone and diamonds.
The study involved extensive research activities including surveys of 48 mining firms representing 276 minerals and metals sites across Canada, 19 educational institutions offering mineral programs, 694 individual surveys with mining sector employees, focus groups, roundtable meetings, and 59 qualitative stakeholder interviews including industry associations, union representatives, business, and training institutions along with secondary research.
For more information on the study visit www.ProspectingTheFuture.ca. Readers who wish to do so may sign up for e-mail newsletters about participation in the study.