May 2010

HR Outlook

Bridging the gap: Work readiness program helps employers address critical HR challenges

By L. Forcellini

The Canadian mining industry will soon benefit from a national work-ready program for Aboriginal Peoples that will provide a practical solution to current recruitment challenges and help employers address and fulfil future labour needs.

MiHR is launching the Ready to Mine, Skills Development Project, in partnership with the Assembly of First Nations, to increase the involvement and engagement of Aboriginal Peoples in the mining sector and to help employers gain access to an increased pool of work-ready individuals who are often located near Canadian mines and exploration sites. The project provides a strategic solution to the industry’s current struggle to find skilled workers and will help employers offset the gap from the unprecedented number of mining workers slated to retire in the near future.

The Ready to Mine, Skills Development Project was conceptualized after MiHR’s 2009 needs assessment revealed national interest in an essential skills program for the industry. This pre-employment mining training program is a potential entry point to MiHR’s Canadian Mining Credentials Program. It can be delivered by a number of training experts or community facilities and will be based on an industry-approved, entry-level skills training standard. The project includes the development of a training curriculum, a learner’s workbook, assessment tools and an online database to track participants and success rates. The benefits include consistency in learning outcomes, increased worker mobility and bridging the gap between career-seeker skill levels and employer demand level for skills.

The program will help ensure Aboriginal Peoples have the skills and confidence needed to enter the mining industry, giving them an advantage to embark upon a rewarding career in one of Canada’s highest paying industries. 

Adele Faubert, manager of Aboriginal affairs at Goldcorp Inc.’s Musselwhite Mine and member of the Ready to Mine Steering Committee, views the program as a viable solution that is mutually beneficial to both employers and Aboriginal communities. “It makes good business sense to have a local trained workforce at a remote mine site,” Faubert explains. “And employment opportunities are much needed within remote [Aboriginal] communities because the unemployment rate is high. The local community elders really support employment for their youth for the health and well-being of the community; the more people they have employed, the more functional the community.”

Faubert feels MiHR’s partnership with the Assembly of First Nations on the project will help ensure the training program is culturally sensitive and more readily accepted within Aboriginal communities.  This partnership also builds upon the Guide for Aboriginal Communities and Mastering Aboriginal Inclusion in Mining publications released last year.

The pre-employment program will also help employers by enhancing the relationship and cooperation among Aboriginal communities and the mining industry, and facilitating a medium for partnerships between Aboriginal training organizations.

MiHR and the Assembly of First Nations are partnering with the following organizations in the project’s development: the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, the Mining Association of Canada, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, the Native Women’s Association of Canada, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Métis National Council, Natural Resources Canada, Association of Canadian Community Colleges, Mine Training Society and Yukon Chamber of Mines.

The project, funded by Human Resources Skills Development Canada’s Aboriginal Directorate under the Aboriginal Skills Training Strategic Investment Fund, will undergo a pilot testing phase. Participants will be identified based on program interest, proximity to mine sites, community needs and proven track record for training delivery.

For more information on the Ready to Mine, Skills Development Project, please contact Melanie Sturk at msturk@mihr.ca.


 Lindsay Forcellini
As marketing and communications coordinator, Lindsay Forcellini is responsible for supporting MiHR’s communications and online media initiatives, and coordinating the production of marketing and communications materials. Formerly a writer for Natural Resources Canada, she holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Carleton University.

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