November 2007

HR Outlook

Just how big is the labour crunch in mining?

By B. Kirby

Enhancing the quality of industry’s labour market intelligence

The Canadian mining and minerals industry is experiencing tremendous growth, following a number of years in decline. With global demand for minerals and metals at unprecedented levels, this mining “super-cycle” is expected to be sustained for some time. The rebound has occurred suddenly and with little warning and, as a result, the sector’s human resources planning and development efforts in Canada have not kept pace.

Based on industry growth rates, sector productivity projections, and average attrition and turnover rates, the Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MiHR) has estimated that the sector will need to hire up to 10,000 new workers per year over the next 10 years to meet anticipated production targets (see Mining Labour Market Transition project report, 2007). This estimate is almost 24 per cent higher than the recruitment targets predicted just two years ago (see Prospecting the Future, 2005).

The contrast between the 2005 and 2007 labour demand projections emphasizes the need for timely and accurate intelligence about rapidly changing supply and demand conditions in the Canadian mining sector. The challenge will be to get the right people with the right skills at the right time, in order to meet the demands of the sector. Without this crucial information, growth may be limited by shortages of appropriately skilled workers.

Beginning in the fall of 2007, MiHR has launched a new initiative that will build a national Mining Industry Workforce Information Network (MIWIN) to address the need for comprehensive labour market intelligence, providing industry stakeholders with the necessary data and analysis to more effectively target human resources development strategies towards filling the gaps between supply and demand. The MIWIN system will support industry employers by providing more accurate and timely information about the workforce - by province, by region, by occupation - which will facilitate decision making. An enhanced forecasting ability will also help to inform both public and private policy makers.

The initial phase of this two year program will focus on identifying labour market intelligence needs of industry stakeholders and on documenting the currently available data and analysis from national, provincial, regional, as well as private and public sources. This will enable the MIWIN system to capitalize on those data which are already readily available and to develop collection methods and analytical tools for those that are not.

Funding has been provided through Human Resources and Social Development Canada to help support the MIWIN system, by engaging experts who will assess and compile existing information from secondary sources including census data, Canadian Labour Force Survey, Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS), and others. MiHR will also oversee the design of the instruments to be used for primary data collection (employer surveys, educational surveys, and so on). Furthermore, program resources will be used to help build the IT platform and database to support the MIWIN system.

To ensure that activities at the national level are complementary to existing initiatives at the provincial or regional levels, MiHR is also coordinating this work with several provincial/territorial initiatives focused on labour market information and analysis. Efforts will be made to ensure compatibility of the MIWIN system with regional models.

For more information on the MIWIN project please contact Barbara Kirby,

Barbara Kirby is director, labour market intelligence and workforce development, MiHR.

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