COMMENT: Idea from Down Under needs to come Up North – by Marilyn Scales (Canadian Mining Journal – December 13, 2018)

The Australians have a practical and forward-thinking idea: Hire military veterans to meet the looming labour shortage in the mining sector.

Veterans are highly trained and bring diverse skills and talents to the job. Many have a difficult time transitioning to civilian employment when they leave the army, navy or air force. The fact that a few can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and may have trouble holding down jobs leads to high unemployment rates.

An examination of the problem, entitled “Veteran Employment Report,” has just been published by the WithYouWithMe group that deals with re-integrating former military personnel into civilian life. The report shows that veteran unemployment in Australia is about 30.2% – five times higher than the national average! Underemployment – the inability to find work that matches their skills or that pays as much as when they were in the military – is also high at 19%.

And yet veterans face typical obstacles to meaningful employment. They fail to recognize how their defence skills can suit a civilian job. Employers are nervous about hiring veterans, particularly if a veteran is dealing with PTSD, depression or other “baggage” from his/her time in the service.

As an example, WithYouWithMe points to Fortescue Metals Group. The miner rolled out an initiative to hire current and former military personnel at its operations in the Pilbara. The company created a four-week, trades upskilling program that resulted in the hiring of 51 veterans as heavy diesel mechanics. Forty-one are employed at Christmas Creek and 10 at Cloudbreak.

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