Masaki Miyoshi interviewed 30 people from industry and university as part of his graduate studies thesis at the University of British Columbia (UBC) on “University and Industry Partnership for Developing Highly Qualified People for the Global Mining Industry”.
Highly Qualified People are valuable assets to the mining industry that provide organizational leadership, play an important role in education and research, and often occupy vital mission critical roles, drive innovation, and ensure the long-term sustainability of the industry.
Masaki presented preliminary results from his thesis work at SME 2014, starting with themes derived from analysis of interviews, as summarized below.
- The cyclical nature of the industry works against recruitment, development and retention; a longer term industry strategy is required.
- The looming shortage of qualified people in the industry is going to thrust young mining engineers into decision-making roles without adequate preparation and mentorship.
- Graduates from coop programs are sought after by industry largely because they have already been mentored and accumulated experience.
- There is a global shortage of qualified faculty for mining schools to draw on, and the value of a PhD versus years of on the job experience is open to debate.
- Career-driven professional development is an important strategy to retain key people.
Recommendations resulting from the above themes are as follows.
- With budget cuts, limited resources, and a global shortage of faculty, partnership is a potential solution that works for both industry and mining schools.
- Industry-mining school collaboration is essential for addressing the HR challenge; it’s also a huge competitive advantage in terms of recruitment for those companies that do it well.
- There are strong statistics indicating that offering professional development improves recruitment and retention of employees; universities are well positioned to provide the educational component that companies may not have the resources to put together for themselves.
- Industry needs to better utilize retiring knowledge workers, by offering them roles that move them away from operations and more towards education and mentoring; companies can do this by offering flexible work schedules and part-time or transitional roles; their accumulated knowledge can also be disseminated as courses and lectures.
Masaki’s thesis will be complete by August 2014. For those interested in this work he can be contacted at [email protected].
As a footnote to the above, UBC is already collaborating with other mining schools, industry specialists and course providers on the Certificate in Mining Studies. This is a continuing education initiative that is proving popular with individuals in a professional development context, and with mining companies in a corporate group training context.