British Columbia, Canada's most western province, will employ over 16,700 mining professionals in the next 10 years according to a report released Wednesday by the Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MiHR) in partnership with the BC Mining HR Task Force.
However the study acknowledges that human resources challenges continue to threaten the future competitiveness of the B.C. mining industry.
"A combination of factors including the pending retirement of the baby boom generation, difficulties in attracting and engaging youth and an under-representation of diverse groups paints a challenging ten-year talent forecast," it says.
While the industry has taken tremendous strides in addressing these issues, finding experienced and skilled workers is becoming more difficult, and competition across sectors of the economy is increasing, says the document.
The British Columbia Hiring Requirements and Available Talent Forecasts: Exploration, Mining, and Stone, Sand, & Gravel 2012 report shows cumulative hiring requirements of 13,300 under a baseline scenario, whilst an uptick in the BC mining industry could see this number rise by at least 3,000.
“Based on what we know today, that there won’t be enough new entrants to the mining labour market to meet the projected needs” cautions Dr Martha Roberts, Director of Research at MiHR. “It will be essential for industry employers to be strategic and proactive in workforce planning to ensure the right people can be found when the skills and labour shortages are realized,” adds Roberts.
The impact of the pending retirements and strategies to manage through this will continues to be a priority for mining employers. Net change in employment in the BC mining industry is expected to increase slightly over the forecast period, with the bulk of hiring requirements stemming from a need to replace retiring workers.
“The key element that has not changed in the ten-year outlook is that the workforce continues to age. Nearly half of the mining workforce is eligible to retire by 2022 so we are not only going to lose workers, but the valuable knowledge and experience they take with them” says Roberts.
Regional and subsector analysis show that hiring needs and the talent gap differ throughout the province. “The report provides a solid foundation for local solutions to reflect the needs in mineral exploration, mining, and stone, sand and gravel extraction,” says David Bazowski, Chair of the BC Mining HR Task Force.
“We can look ahead and target solutions to fill critical gaps and ensure the future success of our industry. The report findings highlight the importance of partnerships and collaborations between industry employers, government, and education providers that have been nurtured through the activities of the BC Mining HR Task Force,” he adds.
In the last three years BC has seen a record of mining claims, with more than 11,000 filed in the first seven months of 2012.
The industry revenues in B.C. have doubled over the past eight years, reaching more than $9.8 billion in 2011. In terms of mineral exploration, that nearly $463 million was spent last year alone and 2012 should see a similar amount by the end of the year.