Gearing Up: Developing Mining Talent Through Work-Integrated Learning
Canada’s Mining Industry: HR Challenges and Opportunities
The demand for labour in mining is subject to global economic conditions that affect the demand for mined commodities. Canada’s mining industry has been showing signs of growth, but there are fears that the supply of labour will not meet the demand.
According to the Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MiHR) 2017 Canadian Mining Labour Outlook, there is a growing age gap within the industry. The number of workers aged 15 to 24 has declined since 2006, and the number of workers aged 55 years and up has steadily risen since 2000. The age gap and additional MiHR research points to an expected rise in employment across all mining subsectors – with employers potentially facing a cumulative hiring requirement of up to 127,000 workers over the next 10 years.
This begs the question – how do we find and train the next generation of skilled mining workers?
In response, MiHR created the Gearing Up program. Gearing Up aims to create 1,000 new work-integrated learning (WIL) placements for post-secondary science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and business students over the next four years. WIL combines traditional classroom education with a more hands-on approach to learning in the workplace, such as co-ops, internships, field classes, case competitions or capstone projects. This approach will help students gain the skills of tomorrow through the WILs of today.
“Mining sector employers who are hiring students can easily take advantage of the Gearing Up wage subsidy of up to $7,000 per student hire,” says Ryan Montpellier, Executive Director of MiHR. “The creation of these work-integrated learning opportunities allows employers to leverage talent for future recruitment needs, and provides students more opportunity to gain hands-on work experience and exposure to the variety of in-demand mining careers available.”
Along with the chance to develop their skills in a practical environment, students benefit from more full-time employment in fields more closely related to their studies. They will also have the chance to develop and test technical and employability skills, such as strategic thinking, problem solving and teamwork, in a setting where they can make a difference.
Participants must be full-time students in a post-secondary program, Canadian citizens, permanent residents or persons granted refugee status in Canada, legally allowed to work according to provincial, territorial and national regulations, and be studying in fields related to STEM and/or business. These placements aim to change the way students perceive, pursue and acquire the skills necessary for in-demand careers in the mining sector.
MiHR will provide a wage subsidy to employers who create new WIL opportunities in mining. Employers hiring second-year students and above can receive up to $7,000 or 70 per cent of their wages. Employers also gain the ability to assess potential hires in a working environment. WIL placements can be anywhere from a few days to several months in length, so the possibilities are endless.
Participating companies must be Canadian owned or a Canadian subsidiary, and either a small, medium or a large company involved in the mining or mineral exploration sector, a post-secondary educational institution, or a not-for-profit organization. They are provided access to MiHR’s Gearing Up Consortium Groupsite, an online collaboration portal where Consortium members network, share ideas and stay up to date on the program.
What Does Gearing Up Entail?
The Gearing Up Consortium, comprised of industry and academic partners, form the program’s foundation. The 50+ members of this collective aim to spur the creation of new WIL placements and adapt existing post-secondary programs to include WIL placements – with the goal of creating new opportunities beyond traditional co-ops.
MiHR is facilitating a variety of initiatives to attract key talent to careers in mining. On February 6 and 7, 2018, MiHR hosted a virtual career fair (VCF) to promote Gearing Up and increase awareness of mining career options. The online job fair connected students and job seekers with industry and post-secondary institutions. Fittingly, it was titled A Career in Mining Is More Than You Think. Twelve companies hosted booths and over 850 students and job seekers attended. MiHR’s next VCF will take place in September 2018.
In addition, MiHR is promoting Gearing Up and hosting WIL events at key mining industry conferences, most recently AME Roundup in Vancouver and the PDAC International Convention in Toronto. These events generate effective networking between students, industry and academia.
Gearing Up also aims to eliminate barriers to employment. Barriers are most often unintentional and can make it difficult for certain individuals or demographics to work somewhere effectively and comfortably. The program aims to dispel myths that students may have about careers in mining. Participants in the program must also complete MiHR’s Gender Equity in Mining Works (GEM Works) training and cross-cultural training.
“Gearing Up will change students’ perceptions of a career in mining and open them up to opportunities they might not have known existed,” says Jennifer Wright, Senior Director of Employment and Diversity Initiatives at MiHR. “Attracting more people to mining and breaking down the barriers preventing people from realizing their potential within the industry are imperative to a sustainable talent supply. I am very excited to watch this program unfold and see its impact on the mining industry.”
For more information, or to apply for Gearing Up, visit www.mihr.ca/careers/wage-subsidies/gearing-up
Gearing Up is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Student Work-Integrated Learning Program (SWILP).
About this author
Alex Parsons is a Communications Coordinator at the Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MiHR). He earned a Bachelor of Journalism at Carleton University in 2017, and has previously written articles for The Ottawa Citizen, The Ottawa Sun, Metro Ottawa and edited an anniversary book for National Capital FreeNet.