The Canadian mining industry moves to recognize the skills of its workforce
As part of the mining industry’s strategy to secure the availability of a skilled, effective and mobile workforce, the Mining Industry Human Resources Council and its partners are developing the Mine Worker Certification Program. The program will verify and formally recognize mine workers’ qualifications and competencies against clear expert-defined National Occupational Standards (NOS) criteria. To date, three such standards have been developed for underground miners, surface miners and mineral processing technicians.
The certification program seeks to:
- Raise the profile and credibility of the industry and its occupations and increase work quality;
- Enable intra- and inter-industry worker mobility;
- Enhance workplace health and safety;
- Facilitate career progression;
- Help employers make informed hiring decisions and increase confidence in their employees;
- Bring greater consistency to training resources.
The mining certification model, developed by MiHR with the help of the Canadian Standards Association, was validated by the Canadian Mining Credentials Program (CMCP) Champions Network. The Network comprises approximately 50 mining industry stakeholders, including worker representatives, workplace trainers, mine managers, vice presidents of human resources, labour union officials, post-secondary educators, mining industry association representatives, and provincial/territorial and federal government representatives who, collectively, advocate for and promote CMCP within their networks and jurisdictions. The group also includes the Standing Committee of Mining Credentials, a body that advises and provides strategic direction to CMCP.
Features of the Canadian certification model, based on provincial, territorial, national and international certification-related best practices, include:
- Voluntary participation;
- A correlation with related heavy- industry credentialing systems and the ability to assess equivalencies, where such systems exist;
- The recognition and certification of related experience or credentials;
- The requirement of demonstrated skills, competencies and experience;
- A multi-stage approach including base and standard or proficient levels;
- The existence of workplace assessors who oversee the demonstration of skills in the workplace.
Allowing workers to prepare for acquiring credentials at the very start of their mining careers, the multi-level approach encourages career progression. The three possible entry points at which candidates may initiate their certification process are:
- Level 1 Certification, which demonstrates that an individual possesses the basic occupation-specific knowledge, skills and experience required to gain the additional practical skills, work experience and theoretical knowledge needed for Level 2 Certification. Thus, this level is similar to an apprenticeship.
- Level 2 Certification, which demonstrates that an individual possesses standard-level occupation-specific knowledge, skills, and experience required to successfully work unsupervised in the specified occupation. This level is similar to journeyperson status. A Level 2-certified person may mentor or participate in on-the-job training of Level 1 Certificate holders and can seek Workplace Assessor Certification.
- Workplace Assessor Certification, which demonstrates that the individual possesses the non-occupation-specific, unique, assessor-level knowledge, skills and experience necessary to assess the competencies of other workers.
The next steps for the Mine Worker Certification Program include:
- Development of an NOS for work place assessors;
- Development of assessment tools for the three existing NOS;
- Development of program-related policies and procedures;
- Piloting the system in various Canadian jurisdictions in 2009.
Industry involvement is critical to the development of the system. MiHR encourages you to make your voice heard.
If you would like to be involved in or would like more information on the certification system, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.mihr.ca.
Ryan Montpellier is the executive director of the MiHR Council. In 2007, he was recognized with a Gold Quill Award from the International Association of Business Communicators for his contributions in raising awareness of the HR challenges facing the Canadian mining sector.