A British Columbia mininglabor task force says the industry needs to attract 15,000 new workers withinthe next decade in the province.

A perfect story of economic expansion, declining birthrates, and the aging of the workforce has hit the mineral exploration andmining sector hard, just as it is experiencing significant growth, according toDavid Bazowski, Chair of the BC Mineral Exploration and Mining Labor MarketTask Force.

Canada'smining sector, which is growing at twice the rate of the nation's economy, hasforecast a shortfall of 92,000 workers in the next decade. There is enormouscompetition in attracting employees both within British Columbia and other jurisdictions, Bazowski said,and we need a strong human resources strategy for our industry to reach itspotential.

The top occupations findings the greatest challenges inrecruitment and retention are: geologists, mining engineers, heavy dutyequipment mechanics, accountants, surface electricians, metallurgicalengineers, millwrights, maintenance supervisors, chiefs, managers andsuperintendents, mechanical engineers, and mining supervisors, a survey byRoslyn Kunin and Associates found.

The task force development a long-term HR strategy toaddress the following issues:

A lack of awareness, negative images and stereotypes of themineral exploration and mining industry held by jobseekers, current employees,young people and others.

Perceived or real undesirable working conditions in part ofthe mining industry.

A lack of a coordinated, comprehensive strategy to attractand recruit new workers, including members of the workforce under-representedin the industry.

Increasing working attrition due to aging.

Increasing competition with other industries andjurisdictions for potential and existing employees, and under-utilizingpotential workers from other industries.

No widespread standard mineral exploration mining industrycurriculum at the K-12 level.

Workers entering the industry without basic skills and jobreadiness.

A shortage of trained workers in the industry in keyoperator, trades, technical and professional occupations.

Significant training costs as a financial barrier to mineralexploration and mining employers, and lack of incentives and assistant fortraining.

The lack of a coordinated and cohesive provincial mineralexploration and mining training delivery system.

The need for flexible provincial and federal labor marketand training programs, and regulatory requirements.

A lack of up-to-date, comprehensive labor market and humanresources information on the BC mining industry labor market.

The task force called for a Cdn$40.5 million strategy anddeliverables over the next5 five years to implement the HR strategy.  The potential main sources of funding wouldbe government and industry contributions with the mining industry directlycontributing $10 million or 23% of the total budget. Industry cashcontributions would be targeted for education endowment, two trades' mobileunits, aboriginal high school completion incentives, and exploring trades andtechnologies camps, international and national recruiting missions, careerpromotion video, and other tools.

The mining sector pays the highest wages in the provincewith salaries and benefits averaging Cdn$101,900, said Bazowski. Through ourhuman resources strategy, we look forward to bringing increased benefits toFirst Nations and communities throughout BC as well as increasing theparticipation of women, immigrants, and other underrepresented individuals inthe labour force.

The task force development five long-term human resourcegoals in the following areas:

Image and career promotion

Attraction and recruitment

Retention and turnover

Education and training

Sustainability

A detailed implementation plan for the years 2008 to 2012was developed by the task force. The first year priority stresses leadershipstructure, and achieving momentum in initiating projects, programs and toolsand to begin to achieve first year outcomes.

For further information about the Human Resources Strategygo to www.amebc.ca/taskforce.htm