Dec '11/Jan '12

HR Outlook

Full steam ahead

By R. Montpellier

MiHR Council prepares for the coming year

The past year has marked an exciting time for the Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MiHR) and for Canada’s mining industry. Beginning in January, the Council hosted a series of events to recognize the inaugural group of nationally certified underground miners, surface miners and mineral processing operators through MiHR’s Canadian Mining Credentials Program, culminating in a national event at the CIM Conference & Exhibition in May to celebrate this milestone accomplishment for Canadian miners. Unlike the trades, skilled workers in these occupations have never before been awarded an industry-recognized credential that supports mobility and retention within the mining workforce.

It was an evening of pride, celebration and partnership with growing excitement for the future expansion of the program, which carried throughout the remainder of the year. This milestone accomplishment will continue to define the Council’s activities as we look forward to 2012 and the national launch of the program, making certification a reality for mining workers across Canada.

An evolving relationship with government

The New Year will bring about some changes at MiHR. The results of the federal government’s strategic review of the Sector Council Program will see “core funding” to all sector councils phased out by 2013. In the same announcement, high-level details were given of a new project fund that focuses on labour market information, national occupational standards and certification programs.

So what does this mean for MiHR? Although these changes will have an impact on MiHR, the Council has a growing diversified funding base and is strategically positioned to serve the mining industry in addressing its human resources challenges.  Over the next six months, in consultation with industry stakeholders, we will continue to review our strategic plan to ensure our programs and projects are sustainable and remain relevant and effective.  Additionally, the new funding program announced by the federal government aligns with MiHR’s priorities: national occupational standards; Canadian mining certification/accreditation; and the provision of labour market information.

What MiHR will bring to stakeholders in 2012

In addition to the national launch of our worker certification program, MiHR will continue to focus on its Research for Industry Sustainability priority, to provide industry with the most up-to-date labour market information. To this end, MiHR will refine and develop the model used for the forecasts in its annual outlook reports: Canadian Mining Industry Employment and Hiring Forecasts. One of the major additions will be the incorporation of a talent-availability (or labour supply) forecast which will provide a more complete picture of the mining labour market. This will allow MiHR to analyze the gaps in the mining industry’s labour market and highlight approaches that may be taken to address these gaps.

The Council has also recently published two sector studies on highly qualified people and mineral exploration that provide valuable insight into sector-specific occupations and workforce segments that have not previously been studied from a mining industry perspective. As a result of these studies, Making the Grade: Human Resources Challenges and Opportunities for Knowledge Workers in Canadian Mining and Unearthing Possibilities: Human Resources Challenges and Opportunities in the Canadian Mineral Exploration Sector, MiHR is exploring the possibility of further research into HR management in micro- and small-enterprises. The organization hopes to better understand HR needs and create a hub to facilitate collaborative HR management efforts between smaller companies.

MiHR will also be focusing on expanding the scope of its research initiatives to offer more custom labour market research to meet the needs of its stakeholders. The Council’s previous custom research publications have included provincial reports for British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario and, most recently, the Saskatchewan Mining Industry Hiring Requirements and Talent Availability Forecasts 2011, which was published in partnership with the Saskatchewan Mining Association.

Another exciting development for the Council in 2012 is the launch of Mining Essentials: A Work Readiness Training Program for Aboriginal Peoples. The program, which helps companies and communities meet joint hiring and employment targets, was piloted beginning last fall at Anishinabek Employment and Training Services (AETS) in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Northwest Community College in Hazelton, British Columbia, and Anishinaabeg of Kabapikotawangag Resource Council in Kenora, Ontario.

Mining Essentials teaches industry- validated essential, non-technical skills and knowledge the mining industry requires for an individual to be considered for an entry-level position. It is currently being delivered at Northern College in Timmins, Ontario, in partnership with the Wabun Tribal Council and Detour Gold. MiHR and the Assembly of First Nations are now looking to identify more qualified training partners and sites to increase opportunities to deliver Mining Essentials across Canada, launching in January 2012.

The New Year will bring about new partnerships and challenges for our industry. With increased media attention putting the mining skills shortage in the spotlight, MiHR will continue to mobilize our industry partners across Canada to work collaboratively as we move forward with our new strategic plan.

Ryan Montpellier is the executive director of MiHR. Currently, he sits on a number of boards and provincial committees dealing with labour shortages in the mining sector. 

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