As one of the largest mining nations in the world, there are over 400,000 direct employees and over 190,000 contractors working in the Canadian mining industry. With over $140 billion of new mining investment expected over the next decade, the large skills shortage is a problem which needs to be dealt with.
This skills shortage is likely to continue with a lot of skilled workers now retiring. Low commodity prices in the 1980s and 1990s saw many students who received training in mining to retrain, a lot choosing training in the finance or government sector. Some colleges and universities even cancelled their mining programs.
This has even become a time referred to a ‘lost generation of miners.’
As well as skilled workers choosing to retrain, mining has not been an industry that many female or immigrant workers have wanted to achieve skills or receive training in. Another problem is the remote location where some of these sites are positioned. For example, the Nanisivik mine was the first mine to be built in the Arctic and for over 40 years, the government had no participation in the building of any roads, railways or shipping for any of the mines in northern Canada.
One solution discussed is the project ‘Addressing Systemic Barriers for Gender Equity in Mining’, set-up in 2015. The goal of this project has been to discover the main reasons why women are unlikely to choose training to enter the industry and work out what can be done to make these skills seem more appealing.
Some of the other solutions considered include:
- Providing skilled workers reaching retirement with the job of mentoring young apprentices
- Research and make changes in education and training programs to make them more appropriate for indigenous and immigrant workers
- Exclusive funding for northern mining territories, providing the essential telecommunications and transportation infrastructure.
There is also a lot of competition from other industries. Construction is the most serious threat as a lot of the skills and training received for work in mining are also relevant to this industry. This has caused an even greater demand for skilled workers and competition between both of these industries hoping to attract them. Decent wages are obviously an important issue as workers are likely to choose the industry offering the most money.
Click here to find out more about these problems and the modern solutions chosen to make this industry more appealing.