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Report on shortage of skilled labor completed.

Report on shortage of skilled labor completed

A consultant's report on the shortage of skilled workers in the mining industry has been submitted to the five groups which sponsored it.

The report, compiled following meetings with mining company, labor union and education representatives, was presented to the Mining Association of Canada, the Canadian Institute of Metallurgy, the Centre for Resource Studies, Energy, Mines and Resource Canada and the United Steel-workers Union late last month.

The report has been written at a time when officials within the mining community are voicing concern over a reduction in the number of available skilled workers in that sector. Ultimately, a continued decrease is expected to result in a corresponding reduction in the number of managers and supervisors, since most mining companies prefer to promote from within.

Among the recommendations contained in the report is the creation of a task force to implement measures needed to bolster the ranks of the mining industry.

"This is a very important aspect of the report," said Pat McCulloch, the report's author and a former executive with British Petroleum Canada. "The task force will be a full-time operation and directed by representatives of corporations, labor and individual mining associations."

McCulloch said the mixed membership would provide the necessary balance to ensure that "all the concerned parties have a say in how the task force is run."

He added that he is awaiting feedback from the study's sponsors.

Provincial mining ministries are presently not involved in the task force or the study, but McCulloch said they eventually would have to become involved since, "most of the items which need to be addressed lie in the provincial area."

The report contains recommendations on how the task force should be financed and when it should begin work.

"I'd like to see the task force in place by the end of the year and all the recommendations acted on in about two-and-a-half years," said McCulloch.

He added that, unlike other task forces, the one recommended by his report will have "a constant output throughout the process."

McCulloch ruled out personally participating on the task force, but noted that he was interested in being involved in some other capacity as the industry moves to address its problems.

"I'm not the person for the task force, but if it has a role for me, I'd be very interested," he said, adding that he would prefer working on problems concerning technological changes in mining.

The overall focus of the study is to discover ways to increase the pool of available skilled labor. The key to enlarging the pool, according to McCulloch, is education.

"We need to get feedback from educators on whether the curriculum content meets the needs of the industry and what are the curriculum choices being made by the students.

"We have to prepare for today's and tomorrow's world, not yesterday's."

In an interview last summer McCulloch said the current curriculum offered in universities does not match the needs of the mining industry. Compounding the problem is the lack of job-related training for workers already in the system. Both areas will be a priority for the task force.

"You have to learn all through life. You don't just learn at the beginning of your career and go on with that," McCulloch said. "That's just not adequate any more."

In addition to education the report also identifies social concerns which need to be addressed by the task force.

Among the concerns is the impact of two-income families upon the mining sector.

"When you have a two-income family, how do they decide which one has to give up their job?" McCulloch asked.

"The task force also has to look at what features attract people to small mining communities."
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Title Annotation:Mining
Author:Krejlgaard, Chris
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Nov 1, 1990
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