Demand for mining staff spans all levels and skills

Miners are looking to fill a range of roles now that commodity prices have recovered, says ENR Global.

Sue Kihn, InfoMine's Community Manager, talked to the firm's recruitment expert in May.

"After hitting the bottom of the cycle, real data and expert opinion reflect recovery and growth in 2018 and beyond," says ENR.

"This year we have seen a marked increase in recruitment activity, especially opportunities within new greenfield projects and across all levels and skills."

ENR Global is a London based boutique executive recruitment and HR consulting firm focused on the global mining, energy and infrastructure sectors. They work with organisations across the value chain within specialist sectors to identify, engage, and recruit talent.

Kihn's question and answer with ENR was edited for clarity.

Sue Kihn: What do you see as being the single biggest challenge facing recruiters in mining in 2018?

ENR: In the last year, there has been a recovery in international commodity prices, which has triggered an upturn in the sector. Exploration budgets and capital expenditure have increased, and we have seen a number of new projects, both greenfield and brownfield, coming online. The single biggest challenge for recruiters is availability of top class talent at the right time and cost.

At the more senior end of the market and within specialist skill-sets, the talent pool for experienced professionals is finite. During the downturn redundancies across the sector had driven employees into other sectors and to jobs with better work life balance. One of the challenges in 2018 will be to entice them back given the increase in demand.

Sue Kihn: Do you see mining jobs becoming less in demand as digitalization technologies such as AI, big data online platforms and computers that communicate with each other grow? If so do you have any advice for those in mining, so as not to be squeezed out of the market?

ENR: Like all other sectors repetitive and low skilled jobs in mining will be substituted by technology. However, in the long run there will be creation of new jobs that are technology focused. The only way companies can cut costs and increase efficiency will be to embed digital technologies in every dimension of how mines are built, operated and managed.

New technologies are impacting the sector in a positive way and will continue to help mining companies become more efficient. The “digital mine” will be a reality and AI and big data will empower knowledge workers. To seize the full potential of digitisation, mining companies must prepare today's workers for tomorrow's jobs.

From a career perspective employees need to be more conscious on the impact of technology, and train to become more technology savvy. They must up-skill themselves with new technologies within their specific skill-sets to stay relevant.

Sue Kihn: Is the skills shortage that is predicted to hit the mining industry in the next 10 years due to an aging workforce in Canada, such an issue in other regions of the world from your experience? And if so where?

ENR: Skill-set shortages has been one of the top risks for the mining sector globally. This risk is greater than ever before with all key mining locations like Canada, Australia, South Africa and South America facing a demand versus supply issue.

The emerging market and remote locations like Africa, Asia and the CIS face a bigger challenge, as getting projects off the ground require experienced and internationally-mobile expatriate talent to train and up-skill nationals.

Sue Kihn:To what extent do you rely on AI candidate screening? (automated and machine-learning algorithms which are used to screen CVs and communicate with candidates)? And if so do you find it more helpful than the traditional methods of candidate screening?

ENR: At the present moment, we do not use AI or ML algorithms for screening and rely on the tried-and-tested traditional methods. However, as these technologies are evolving very rapidly, we will see more products in the market that will play a more significant part in the process. The most efficient approach would be to use technology without losing the human touch.

Sue Kihn: Diversity has been earmarked as one of the most pressing issues in the minds of many hiring managers, do you feel that sufficient inroads are being made into addressing this issue?

ENR: There is a lot of discussion around this topic and progress is being made, however we have a long way to go. As it stands I find that it is the larger organisations that push the diversity agenda, while at the junior end of the market it doesn’t seem to be a priority. For the organisations that have put diversity on center stage, it is one potential solution to the demographic time bomb facing the sector.

Diversity and inclusion needs to be a critical aspect of the corporate agenda to ensure a diverse and inclusive workforce. D&I thinking and practices must become a part of recruitment and talent management processes.

Sue Kihn: There has been a lot of talk of an upswing in the mining industry. Do you feel that the numbers of mining jobs available are in line with this? And if so is there any sector in mining that you are noticing a big increase in available mining jobs?

ENR: After hitting the bottom of the cycle, real data and expert opinion reflect recovery and growth in 2018 and beyond. This year we have seen a marked increase in recruitment activity, especially opportunities within new greenfield projects and across all levels and skills.

We have seen new technical leadership roles across mining, including projects and engineering, and functional leadership roles in finance, HSEC, and CSR. At the middle management level, there is an increased demand for mining engineers and business analysts.

Creative Commons image courtesy of Ashley Van Haeften