Canadian Mining’s Future Depends on Millennials and Diversity:
The Industry Can Only Succeed If We All Work Together
We Millennials often turn our nose up at the industry while walking around on our smartphones; a modern-day convenience brought to us by mining. And this attitude goes both ways. While there is a common misconception that our generation believes we know everything; the truth is that no ONE generation does. We need to combine our skills in order to learn more about the subjects we could all use help on.
Age brings invaluable wisdom to the table, but it also creates limitations. The longer you’ve been in the game, the less likely you are to adopt new technologies to accomplish things faster, and towards the infrastructure of the future. Younger generations live and breathe new tech, and our energy can be used to everyone’s advantage. Millennials are already bringing Generation Z into conversations to help create innovation and new platforms.
We Millennials are a collaborative, inquisitive bunch and want to work alongside our Generation X, Y, Z, and Baby Boomer co-workers. And we are interested in the same long-term career goals as any other generation. We are also a more diverse demographic and this makes us keenly aware when large sections of our community are left out of the workplace; which weakens our teams. The vast amount of knowledge that has been locked away can be unlocked by the skills from a wide range of ages, races, and genders.
Attracting a young and varied talent pool doesn’t just fill the workforce gap, it also builds a bridge for the transfer of knowledge.
A Growing Demographic
Eventually, Millennials will be the largest percentage of a company’s workforce. “By 2025 Millennials will comprise three-quarters of the global workforce.” We take up 15 per cent today and that’s going to keep growing. In Canada specifically, “those leaving the labour force outnumber those about to join.” Over the next decade, Canadian Mining “production occupations will be most in demand.” By 2029, studies show a workforce gap upwards of 127,000 workers.
Canadian mining will need diversity to grow and “a lack of workforce diversity has been identified as a factor that is limiting to a strong labour market in Canada’s mining industry.” If you need to hire more workers, you simply cannot afford to exclude anyone. There is a very clear solution: hire people of all ages, genders, and races, and then invest in your current workforce so that they can adopt the new skills necessary to succeed in a changing industry.
Maintaining a sustainable mining operation is an industry objective, but it also affects the workplace. Before attempting to recruit these new audiences, the industry should address, and change, a wealth of social and environmental issues. Changing policies now so mining can move towards a more socially conscious and sustainable industry would help to humanize the industry and cause its new robust workforce to respond positively. As it stands today, the current awareness of mining will not attract enough Millennials or diversity to fill the workforce gap. And it certainly won’t attract the most skilled or talented applicants.
What Can Canadian Mining Do?
Short Term Solution: Rely on partnerships who know how to incentivize and pull them in sideways.
- Tech Service Partnerships
If mining companies fail to attract new technologically-skilled workers on their own, they can help fill the gap by partnering-up with technology companies that do. Mining has been holding out on the adoption of cloud computing and advanced analytics, and not fully integrating platforms for operations. Tech service companies, such as Guardvant, DataCloud, MineSense, and Hexagon, have been partnering with mining companies to help fill the void. These companies are also great at pulling in young talent to be a part of their company. Millennials are planning for the workforce of the future, and that future includes cloud architecture, signal processing, python, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.
- Organizations for Diversity Inclusion
Work alongside diverse organizations, adopt their policies, attend their events, and use their resources. There are many terrific groups out there that promote diversity inclusion, such as Women in Mining Canada, Canadian Aboriginal Minerals Association, TechGirls Canada, and SheEO, which are great resources for your next hire. There are plenty of women mining-focused diversity organizations, but not enough for other minority groups. Encourage and assist in founding and funding them.
- How This Works
Once these vendors get a glimpse into mining, and see the wealth of opportunity there is in the industry, they’ll start to trickle in. You can view these partnerships like marketing opportunities and mentoring programs. While mining is reaching a new audience of potential employees, industry will also notice why these certain people are so attracted to these sectors. Spoiler alert: they are attracted to companies that listen to their voices, give them power to make decisions, are socially and environmentally conscious, offer flexible work arrangements, encourage a work/life balance, practice inclusivity, have clear paths to advancements in careers, and fairly compensate; which are all essential to a thriving workplace culture.
Long Term Solution: Pay attention to the changes that younger, diverse talent is asking to see.
Turn initiatives into policy and act on them. In doing so, you’ll show you care about the land and its people. And do this before you build awareness around it. Social awareness is about basic decency and human rights. Soon, more socially conscious workers will be so far up the management chain they’ll be making huge decisions that will greatly affect all companies. Don’t become a floppy disc and we won’t let the industry become one either. The following are non-negotiable:
- Adopt new technology that can improve efficiency and lessen the impact on the earth. If you want to take your industry to the next level, adopt new technologies, hire external help, and hire internal divisions dedicated to digital reformation.
- Give liberally to organizations that take care of the people who were on the land before you. And then make sure the land after you is reformed to a better state than it was when you started.
- Take care of and invest in your employees by offering a true living wage, full benefits, a sustainable work/life balance, and attainable steps to advance.
- Hire diverse employees and then do everything you can to keep and assist this workforce. Inclusion in team meetings, trainings, and mentoring inside the workplace will result in reduced turnover. As noted in a Mining Industry Human Rights Council diversity report: “People who listed a successful diversity and inclusion practice from their employer were also more likely to report that they expect to stay in the mining sector beyond the next five years”.
It is in everyone’s best interest to practice sustainability and inclusivity. There are numerous Canadian mining companies taking positive actions to improve mining in this regard. Let their efforts encourage others to do the same while Millennials and future generations continue to encourage them to do more.
Let’s all do better together; we can’t afford not to.
About this Author
Lindsey Miller’s marketing mission is to help make mining cool again. She plans to stay curious, prioritize listening, and do better together. Her varied background in B2B marketing assists her current position as Director of Marketing at DataCloud, where they develop mining technology that improves extraction efficiency. DataCloud’s platform of IoT sensors for drills and cloud computing software analyzing geological data has no trail blazed in the industry. This fuels Lindsey’s passion for education-based campaign building and gets her one step closer to her childhood dream job, that being a rock collector.