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Recruiting Graduates to Mining Is Critical for the Industry to Succeed, with Steve O’Dea of West Gold

A critical element to ensure an industry can be successful well into the future is the ability to recruit new people. One of the mining industry’s biggest challenges is to keep adding to its employment base, especially when it comes to engineers and surveyors. In a recent episode of the Full Production podcast, I chatted with Steve O’Dea, former managing director of BK Gold Mines and now a regional manager for West Gold. He told me that he finds it next to impossible to recruit graduates into the industry. This is an issue that’s being faced across the board, and while there’s no single cause, there are a few key points that need to be addressed if the industry is going to improve its record on recruiting graduates.

The Image of Mining

The mining industry has an image problem. Most young people think of mines as nothing more than dirt and shovel operations. Many young people also have an incorrect view that mines are not sustainable. These are misconceptions that the mining industry needs to work hard at removing, as they are no longer the truth. Mines these days are highly technological operations that employ the use of lasers, drones and advanced machinery. The mining industry is also heavily focused on reducing as many environmental impacts as possible. The more transparent and open mines are with how they operate today, the better. By correcting the image that people have, the better the mining industry will be at bringing new generations into its workforce.

Providing Work Certainty

The industry has suffered from the mining boom as much as it has benefited from it. While there were plenty of stories shared about making big money while the boom was happening, there were just as many about people going bust when the work dried up. This created a belief that mining is not a reliable industry. The truth is that, due to a skills shortage, there’s an abundance of work available. While many other industries are seeing graduates wait for several months to find suitable employment, there are plenty of opportunities in the mining industry.

Diversity of Skills

The problem with encouraging graduates to enter the mining industry can also be attributed in some way to their understanding of how their skills can be applied on a mine site. There are a vast number of roles that need to be filled by those with the right qualifications. The more mine operators open their doors and offer graduate programmes, the more they will show how their education would be utilised. The more collaboration that occurs between mine sites and universities, the better-informed graduates will be about education and the mining industry. This will lead to new generations seeking careers in mining.

While there are several factors that contribute to the downturn of interest in graduates moving into the mining industry, they are all surmountable. The better the industry works to tackle those issues head-on, the stronger the industry will be – now and into the future.

Listen to my entire conversation with Steve here.