Mining to face worker shortage: Report – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – June 23, 2015)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

Few children say they want to be miners when they grow up, which is one of the reasons the mining industry will experience a serious shortage of workers in the next decade.

Weak commodity prices have resulted in a lull in mining, but the Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MiRH) is projecting the industry will be short more than 106,000 workers in 10 years unless the situation is turned around.

MiHR published its 2015 mining labour market report recently, an in-depth forecast for the next two, five and 10 years about the existing workforce, demographics and diversity, and other challenges.

The report is meant for companies, unions, post-secondary school institutions, government and other stakeholders, said MiHR executive director Ryan Montpellier.

Among the key findings in the report are:

— For every job vacancy in mining, there are fewer than three potential job seekers in Canada, well below the average six job seeks per vacancy in other industries;

— Some of the biggest gaps in the next decade will be in trades and production, particularly in underground mining, as well as machine operators and mine labourers.

— Mining companies are three times more likely to hire workers who live in one province and work in another than other industries.

— There is an under-representation of young people as well as immigrants, women and aboriginal people.

— Aboriginal people represent the largest untapped opportunity for mining companies because they often live close to operations.

The industry isn’t talking much about labour shortages just now because of low commodity prices, said Montpellier, but the long-term outlook is strong.

“If you’re looking for a career, then the mining industry has a lot to offer. That’s part of the message we’re trying to bring forward,” Montpellier said in a telephone interview from Ottawa.

Wages in mining have risen significantly higher than those in most other industries in Canada and there’s still a relatively low unemployment rate in mining “even in this climate when we see suppressed commodity prices.”

Of the 106,000 people needed to meet the demand in a decade, 95% will be replacements for mine employees who will be retiring.

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