Mines facing future staff shortage
BRANDON WALKER — The Daily Press (Timmins, ON) — Oct. 2, 2008
The Ontario Mining Association is trying to encourage women, young people and Aboriginals to work in a sector that will need 93,000 new employees nationally in the next decade.
The president of the OMA spoke during the Timmins Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting on Wednesday night about the need to fill those positions, about a third of which will be needed for Ontario.
Chris Hodgson said the OMA has created a video called “New Opportunities,” which is in five languages, including three Aboriginal languages, to encourage people to work in the industry.
The association has also created an underground virtual mine tour aimed at students in grades 7 to 9, called Nickel Quest, which was recently launched in Sudbury.
“We’ve developed a new relationship with Skills Ontario Canada that provides a venue for mining jobs to be showcased with high school guidance teachers and Grade 10 students as part of their curriculum,” Hodgson said.
The OMA is also unveiling a new video competition, called So You Think You Know Mining, which attempts to attract arts students who wouldn’t normally consider mining as a career.
“It promotes the benefits of mining and how it helps the world.”
Hodgson said there are cash prizes up to $5,000 for the winning videos.
He said the positive impacts of mining are felt even more in Northern Ontario and First Nation communities for the industry’s regional development role.
“Mining is the largest private sector employer of Aboriginals in Canada with about five per cent of the work force being Aboriginal, about twice the national average for Aboriginals.”
There have been large amounts of job losses in Ontario in the forestry, automotive and manufacturing sectors, Hodgson said. A recent study shows the mining industry will need an additional 92,000 workers in the next 10 years.
“The No. 1 challenge facing our industry is the workforce shortage. About 92,000 employees are scheduled to retire nationally and that doesn’t even include (hiring) employees for new growth.
“Government, industry and the OMA have a role to play in developing these employees. This explains why we redoubled our efforts around communication and our outreach effort,” he said.
Hodgson said more young people must be encouraged to participate because the demographics have slumped. Aboriginals are being targeted because they have good demographics, but Hodgson said the most under-represented demographic is women.
“We need to encourage more women to find a job in mining by letting them know it’s a safe, meaningful industry.
“That’s a message we have to drill into people. Our workforce has to become more balanced,” he said.