Modern mining is much more than ‘dirty’ work – by Paul Farrow (Vancouver Sun – April 23, 2013)

Outdated image is driving young skilled workers away from an exciting industry that calls for a wide variety of skill sets

Paul Farrow is the senior vice-president for people and safety at Goldcorp, based in Vancouver. For more information, visit

Canada’s resource sector is facing a skilled labour shortage due to an aging workforce and a scarcity of new skilled workers. In the next five to 10 years, it’s estimated the global mining industry will need well over 55,000 new workers to meet demand.

In B.C. alone, according to the Mining Association of B.C., the industry will need to fill nearly 6,000 positions by 2016. As The Vancouver Sun’s BC2035 series attests, competition to attract the best talent is intense. For instance, Goldcorp typically has more than 100 job openings at any given time across operations in Canada, the U.S., Mexico and South America.

What’s preventing the mining industry from attracting skilled workers? In part, our sector has struggled to overcome misconceptions about mining practices and the type of work experience we can offer our employees. Outdated ideas about mining as an old-fashioned or “dirty” industry persist, even though our sector has made significant progress in advancing technologies, improving environmental performance and ensuring positive, lasting social benefits in the communities where we operate.

It’s time to let both the public and potential recruits know that today’s mining industry has sophisticated operations that are constantly evolving and improving in step with technological innovation. Mining offers well-paid positions that lead to opportunities for professional growth throughout a thriving global sector.

Mining offers forward-thinking, exciting and challenging careers. So what can Goldcorp and other industry players do to overcome our recruitment challenges? We need to get ahead of the curve. I believe the key solutions are attracting today’s young talent as a catalyst for growth and evolution, fostering educational partnerships to engage critical thinkers, and working with third-party organizations and experts to improve industry practices.

At Goldcorp, we put our people first. We have started working closely with university graduate programs to attract the best talent that will move the industry forward. This year alone, we are bringing 25 university graduates on board from several Canadian and U.S. universities for a two-year structured graduate program.

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