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New training program aims to tackle labour shortage, break barriers in Canadian mining

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In a bid to tackle labour shortages in the mining industry, an educational institute in northern Ontario is starting a training program that will aim to attract young people, women, and newcomers to Canada to the sector.  

The 14-week program at Collège Boréal, called Mining Potential, will launch at its campuses in Sudbury and Timmins on February 16 and the goal is to expose students to the mining industry and prepare them for entry-level jobs.  

It will include lectures from executives and experts in the industry, site visits, information on health and safety, and the basic reporting standards required in the industry. 

The Canadian mining industry is experiencing a labour shortage, industry experts say. Job vacancy rates in the mining, quarrying, and oil and gas sector in the third quarter of last year reached a record high of 4.3%, representing more than 8,600 open positions, according to Statistics Canada data from late December. 

According to the Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MIHRC), which designed content for the program, there will be gap of roughly 80,000 to 120,000 mining workers by 2030, forcing companies to deal with “replacement demand” even as they need to fill net new positions. 

Ryan Montpellier, MIHRC’s executive director, said programs like Mining Potential can be a “key solution” to tackle the labour shortage. He believes growing the talent pipeline from all sources is “critical to the industry’s ability to meet the workforce needs.”   

“The mining industry has historically struggled with attracting underrepresented groups especially with women and new Canadians,” said Montpellier. “We thought developing a unique and tailored mining program … specifically geared to the underrepresented groups, was important to ultimately leading to greater diversity in the mining sector.”  

Julie Nadeau, the college’s director of business development, echoed a similar sentiment and said that a large section of the industry’s current workforce is expected to retire in the coming years. She also noted that with demand for metals increasing as the world heads towards its net-zero goals, programs like these are going to play a crucial role. 

Nadeau said she hopes that the course can change the common perception that jobs in mining are “hard, dirty and deep underground.”  

“That’s not really the case,” she said. “There are so many other jobs that are available in the mining industry with the advanced technologies … This program here hopes to open their eyes and show that there are so many different opportunities.”  

Tuition will either be free or offered at a nominal cost of about $250, Nadeau added, for a program that is worth “well over $1000.”  She hopes the nominal tuition and the program’s “unique” curriculum attract people from underrepresented groups. 

A portion of the program’s costs will be covered by Newmont Mining (TSX: NGT; NYSE: NEM). Other partners include Lake Shore Gold, a subsidiary of Pan American Silver (NASDAQ: PAAS), which will be offering site visits to students, and contractor Huron Mining, which will provide core training.  

(This article first appeared in The Northern Miner)