Life for those who have fallen victim to the mining crisis in Australia

For those involved in the mining sector it is not news to hear that the mining industry has been in a bad state for some time worldwide, which has resulted in drastic job cuts all over the world, with few if any countries having escaped being affected by the slump. Australia has been badly hit, with mine closures having devastated parts of Australia. All sectors of mining have been affected, but there are other industries also suffering in Australia including the auto manufacturing industry. According to the official Australian Bureau of Statistics data the national unemployment rate in Australia jumped from 5.8 percent to 6 percent in June. Even though this does not sound like a huge amount, one needs to keep in mind the impact this has had on the mining industry and its associated industries. Also that although the mining industry only employs a fraction of the Australian workforce, around 2 percent, it directly employs another approximately 8 percent, through related industries such as construction, transport and engineering sectors.

There are reports that up to ten thousand coal mining jobs alone having been lost in the last two years in Australia. This is despite a global need for coal used in steel and power generation. it is however not all gloom and doom and there are reports that there is a new mine being approved in Queensland, which if it goes ahead will be the largest in Australia. Long term it seems that things will improve for coal miners in Australia as according to an article by ABC news in May, despite the current slump, the forecast long term is strong, and according to the Bureau of Resource Energy Economics Australia’s exports will be worth $225 billion in the next few years. There have also been some very large proposed mines recently approved in the Galilee Basin in Central Queensland. So all is not doom and gloom, and for those in coal mining who have lost their jobs in recent times, it seems that things may start to improve. However things are not good overall for miners in Australia and there are still massive job cuts going on across the mining sector.

For those affected by these job losses, life can be extremely hard. The majority of these people have families to support and just cannot afford to be out of work. Australia is also a notoriously expensive country to live in. Unemployment and the financial implications that go along with, it can be devastating for those affected and their families. Apart from the financial implications, there is often a tremendous psychological impact on those affected by layoffs. One can experience an overwhelming sense of loneliness, even for those involved in a major layoff in which many co-workers also lose their jobs. The vast majority of those involved in layoffs will experience anxiety, depression, stress and despair after losing their jobs. This is particularly evident now as because of the state of the industry those who have lost their jobs have fewer prospects of getting work at present, even in non-mining sectors in the economy.

If you are one of the unfortunate ones, try not to let the time you spend out of work be a total waste of time. Whilst out of work and job hunting, where you have time on your hands, this time can give you the perfect opportunity to reskill, and to get new industry related training that may help secure a new job when the job market starts opening up again. Times are tough, and there is a lot of competition out there, so it’s imperative to be as skilled as possible and to have the right training required for potential jobs. It also gives one time to ensure that your resume is the best it can be to ensure that it will attract the right employers. For this reason spend some time on your resume. Also ensure that you do some career networking, try to make as many new contacts in the mining sector as possible, a large proportion of new jobs are filled through word of mouth and contacts. For this reason if you are out of a job, try to use the time you have productively, to ensure that when things do pick up again, that you are going to give yourself the best chance possible of finding a new job.

Tough as it is, it very important for people to realise that in today’s mining climate, that layoffs are not based on your value, but rather on the company’s financial situation. Also to remember that mining is cyclical and that it will eventually turn.

Giving constructive feedback in the workplace

Giving positive feedback is always easy, but what about those times when an employee is not performing and you need to give negative feedback? That can be a different story, especially for those who do not like confrontation. Managers need to be careful when dishing out negative feedback, and need to ensure that it is done constructively. It is important to tread carefully in order not to demoralize the employees and there are ways which can take the sting out of criticism. Most importantly when having to dish out negative feedback, it is important to always try to ensure that you also acknowledge any positives and where they employee may have achieved first. Employees respond well to compliments and are far more likely to be open to and listen to criticism if there positives are also acknowledged. That way they are less likely to feel victimized and that they can do no good.

Also try to dish out negative feedback in small doses. It can be overwhelming for an employee to be bombarded with a whole lot of things that they are not doing right, as the chances are it will all come as a surprise and if there is just too much for them to get their minds around it may just overwhelm them and they feel they are not able to do anything right and shut off. Rather schedule regular check ins with regular reports so that when giving feedback, both negative and positive will become part of the meeting. Feedback both negative and positive works best when observed regularly in the workplace.

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Women in Mining

Recently, Australian Mining teamed up with Manufacturer’s Monthly and PACE to give out nine 2014 Women in Industry Awards to recognise the achievements of women who work in the industrial sector. The awards promote excellence, and are aimed at raising the profile of women within traditionally male-dominated industries. Though mining may be one of those conventionally male sectors, it’s now experiencing some radical changes and becoming increasingly gender neutral in various areas, from trade to entry-level and professional areas of work.

Cole Latimer, the editor of Cirrus Media’s industrial publications, emphasises the importance of the awards in articulating all of the contributions that are being made in order to change the face of the industry.

“Though female participation has risen across all industrial sectors in Australia, companies are still focusing on more innovative attraction and retention strategies to foster this growing talent and support young women working in the sector,” he says.

But what exactly are the opportunities for women in the mining industry? Here’s an overview of roles, and the future potential of women in mining industry.

The Current Situation

Today, only 18 per cent of jobs in the mining industry are occupied by women. Increasing the participation of women is, however, one of the key goals of the Australian Mining Industry – mainly due to the skills shortage experienced in the sector. In general, the characteristics of employment in mining, such as long shifts, hard labour and remote working environments, have discouraged women from exploring roles in the industry.

This might soon change, as a recent survey by the Office of Women Queensland, the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and the Women in Mining Network, concluded that women could provide a solution to that increasing skills shortage.

Mining companies are currently addressing these issues and encouraging women’s participation in the industry by offering flexible work packages, on-site childcare, better pay rates, comfortable working conditions, extended maternity leave, breast-feeding facilities, as well as on-site housing for couples.

Opportunities for Women

Women can be found working in some traditionally male positions, such as truck driving or drilling, but there are many more opportunities offered by the mining industry. Women can find jobs in skilled mining positions even without previous experience in mining. Among those we find scientific positions (researchers within the fields of geology, engineering, surveying, chemical or mechanical engineering, social sciences or environment management) and business positions that range from accounting and project management to human resources and occupational health and safety.

But that’s not all! There are other positions available in the areas of IT, trade-based roles, hard-hat areas (dump truck driving, for instance, is considered well-suited for women) or other qualified jobs – from on-site fitness instructors to medical staff. There is also a need for workers to fill positions in cleaning, catering, office administration, fieldwork and data entry.

The Future of Women in the Mining Industry

On the whole, the future of women in mining looks bright, in both the unskilled and skilled sectors of the industry. Whether it’s working directly in the mining pit, driving road trains or preparing food, the mining industry is developing in a direction that aims to include female workers and increase productivity as a result.

Women interested in a career in mining have a wide range of support resources at their disposal, provided by organisations such as the Women in Mining Network.

Kelly Smith works at CourseFinder, an Australian online courses resource. She also provides career advice for students and job seekers.


Prepare for the Growing Shortage of Qualified Managers in Mining

Simon Houlding, Vice-President for Professional Development at EduMine writes:

The mining industry has a growing management crisis. A lack of skilled professionals and a rapidly aging workforce make it difficult for companies to fill vacant roles with qualified candidates, threatening short and long-term growth prospects. There just aren’t enough mining professionals with 10 to 15 years of mining experience to take-over from retiring baby boomers in management positions!

New Management Certificate Programs provide a solution by offering online training that supports your accelerated growth and development along clearly defined career progression paths.

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The expatriate life in Guinea

Guinea is a country in West Africa roughly the same size as the United Kingdom. It has 320 kms of coast line and it shares its northern border with Guinea-Bissau, Senegal and with Mail. Its Southern border is shared with Sierre Leone, Liberia and the Ivory Coast. Guinea is predominately an Islamic country with Muslims representing roughly 85 percent of the population. French is the official language and the main language taught in schools, in the media and the government. There are however also roughly 245 indigenous languages spoken. The coastal region of Guinea and most of the inland has a tropical climate. Its rainy season lasts typically from April to November, and it has a high humidity.

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Looking for a job? How attending networking events can help

Having doubts as to whether it’s worth your while attending the latest large mining exhibition? If so, don’t have doubts. Attending any mining networking event can give you the perfect opportunity to make new contacts, many of whom could be big players in the industry who may be able to give you the perfect opportunity to show your worth. Go to every event that you can, and remember that even though so much of networking nowadays is done online, that personal contact can make all the difference in the world. The more mining exhibitions, job fairs and networking gatherings you can go to, the better.

Reports are that at least 60% of jobs are found through various networking channels, and that close on 80% of jobs are not advertised externally. For this reason if you are not networking and tapped into this hidden job market you may be losing out on countless opportunities. There are many ways of networking, and attending mining exhibitions is just one of them that will give you a great opportunity to become involved in networking.

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Career-Driven Professional Development is a Key Strategy for Employee Retention

Written by Simon Houlding, Vice-President of Professional Development for InfoMine Inc, lifelong learning is an accepted feature of a mining career in today’s world. Long gone are the days when an initial degree was all the qualification you needed to set yourself up for life. Whether you are working towards your CPD (Continuing Professional Development) requirement, or preparing yourself for promotion, or cross-training for a career change, or simply learning a new technology or skill to remain competitive, lifelong learning in the form of professional development is now a fact of life.

Professional development may be self-directed and focused on the courses and other activities that meet your career objectives, or it may be part of a corporate training program. Most professional associations now have an annual CPD requirement for their members. These typically distinguish between “soft” professional development, such as attendance at a conference, and “hard” professional development such as completion of a course with confirmation of learning objectives.

Read further here. 

How to pass your psychometric test

Psychometric testing appears to becoming more and more of an integral part of the recruitment process. Many companies place a lot of emphasis on the results of these tests, so it’s important to ensure you do your best, and get the best results possible from them. It is perfectly normal to feel some anxiety and stress on hearing that you have to do a psychometric test, but there are ways to prepare and do the best you can in these tests.

Here are some tips to help you do your best at these tests:

  • Practice as many aptitude tests that you can get your hands on, the more you practice the better you will get at them.
  • Try to focus especially on online aptitude tests, it is most likely that you will be put through an online psychometric test, so you need to get used to the format and the way things are laid out online. You also need to be able to operate a computer relatively well, so ensure you familiarise yourself with online psychometric tests.
  • Always practice the aptitude tests that you find the hardest. If you find the verbal reasoning tests easy but the numeric tests hard, rather focus on the numeric tests. The more you practice the easier and less intimidating they will become.
  • Make sure you read the instructions and questions carefully, some of the questions are worded in such a way that they can be deceiving, so don’t get caught out because you misunderstood the question.
  • Always ensure you work within the time allocated. If you do not know the answer to a question move onto the next. You can always come back and try again at the end if you have time left, but rather answer the questions you can and get the extra points, than miss out on them because you spent too much time on a question you don’t know the answer for.
  • Go over your results very carefully, check to see where you have gone wrong and where you are battling and concentrate on improving your marks in those areas.
  • Many people come short with the numeric reasoning tests – ensure you have enough knowledge by practicing extensively on these tests. You will be able to get a very good idea through practicing as to what type of questions you can expect to be asked in the numeric reasoning tests.
  • Don’t panic. Try to ensure you complete all the questions in the test but if you are not able to, remember that the tests are generally designed so that only a very small percentage of the test takers can correctly answer all the questions within the time allocated.
  • When doing an aptitude test don’t stop when the time runs out, if you are finished, go over both the questions and your answers again, and check very carefully that you have read the questions properly and answered them as best as you can. It’s easy to make careless mistakes when you are rushing through work.
  • Remember with the personality tests that they will use specific questions to detect your level of honesty. Always be honest, these tests are designed to ask questions in such a way that they they can tell if you are not being honest.
  • Personality tests are also designed to include a number of different questions at different places in the test designed to measure ones personality trait. For this reason it is important to be honest and consistent when answering questions throughout the test.
  • Lastly if you realise half way through the test that you are not going to have enough time to finish do not panic, some tests are designed in such a way that you are not meant to be able to finish them.

Remember preparation is the best way to ensure that you demonstrate your full potential. So practice, practice and practice…

Considering a career as an Environmental Technician?

Do you have a love for the environment, are concerned about the impact that environmental contamination may have on our health and enjoy getting your hands dirty and being outdoors? If so you may want to consider a career as an Environmental Technician.

An Environmental Technician will typically work closely with Environmental Scientists and specialists to identify, assess, treat and correct environmental issues and problems.
However in order to get a job as an Environmental Technician, depending on where in the world you are based, you would typically need an associate’s degree or 2 years of post-secondary education, or would need at least a related diploma from a technical college. Having completed courses in maths chemistry and physics at school, is also advantageous. Having completed courses in computers would also be helpful. Because of the wide range of tasks, environments and different industries that Environmental Technicians work in, some jobs and industries may require a higher level of education than others.

Environmental Technicians will typically work under the direction of an Environmental
Scientist and Environmental Specialists. They will often also work on teams with scientists, engineers and technicians in other fields to solve complex environmental problems. They would monitor the environment and investigate sources of pollution and anything else that would be harmful to the environment by performing laboratory and field tests. It would also be the job of the Environmental Technician to determine characteristics of composition by conducting chemical, physical, laboratory and field tests. They would assess water pollutants by collecting and analysing water samples from various sources.
They would also evaluate atmospheric pollutants by collecting and analysing samples of gases. They would also investigate land pollutants by collecting and analysing soil, silt and mud. They would prepare summaries and charts by gathering and testing samples, and recording the results. They would also be responsible for ensuring that environmental issues comply with the legal and water management requirements and keep up to date with changes in environmental legislation. It is the job of the Environmental Technician to maintain safety regulations, and to recommend clean-up procedures.

Environmental Technicians will work in laboratories, offices and in the field. In the field, Environmental Technicians will spend most of their time on their feet which can be tiring, so it’s important to be in good physical health. They may also be required to carry and set up heavy testing equipment as well as be able to crouch and bend frequently. Environmental Technicians may also be required to travel to meet with clients or to perform fieldwork, so need to be flexible in terms of working away from home.

The job outlook for Environmental Technicians is generally good. According to the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of environmental science technicians is projected to grow 19 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is faster than the average for all occupations. For this reason Environmental science technicians should have good job prospects overall.

For Environmental jobs and career opportunities, visit CareerMine now!

Attracting talent when skills are scarce – is it time to consider a more strategic approach?

Lets face it, all mining companies want to attract the best talent out there, be it students and graduates, or those with high skills and experience already working in the mining industry. Some companies / mining operations are better at doing this than others. How? Because they keep an active presence on the web or on a mining specifc job portal like CareerMine during the sluggish periods. Even though these companies might not be on active hiring drives, they keep a presence to passively attract candidates to their career paths, company culture, principles of prosperity and safety & environmental respect. This is also an ideal opportunity to build a talent bank of candidates for future hiring requirements.

Below is an interesting article written by Mark Brown, MD of WRS, which highlights further the importance for companies to invest in becoming employers of choice.

With no immediate solution to the continuing global skills shortages within the oil & gas, energy, offshore and mining sectors, companies looking to attract talent also need to consider that baby boomers retiring in increasing numbers and fewer graduates with the right skills entering the workforce are going to make this a real challenge in the mid to long-term.

So how do you ensure that your roles attract the talent and skills you need? Companies need to invest in becoming an employer of choice in their marketplace so that they can successfully source, recruit and also retain today’s top candidates in a skills scarce market that sees no signs of abating. This is where employer branding comes in. Employer branding is about delivering an authentic and compelling experience to candidates and employees alike.

What is an employer brand?

  • A comprehensive recruitment and retention strategy that positions your company to appeal to a range of target audiences within your marketplace. 
  • A focused and consistent message that speaks to both current and potential employees that conveys the company’s culture and identity in a truthful and compelling manner. 
  • A long-term vision that encompasses the values, systems, policies and behaviours which define what organisation expects of their employees and what employees can expect of the company.

The key steps to a strong and compelling employer brand

There are a number of factors to consider before embarking on the development of a strategy for your employer brand. Here WRS have listed the key steps to consider:

1. Get buy-in at all levels within the company

Do you have the “buy-in” of top management? Your company culture must be a clear set of values that are communicated and believed in from the top-down. It is important to follow through on promises made during the onset of an employee’s working relationship with the company.

2. Do your research

There are two areas of research to cover. Firstly internal – this could include focus groups, interviews with executives, needs analysis as well as complete employee profiles and workforce demographics (Gen Y, baby boomers, etc.) Secondly look at external factors such as who you are looking to attract, what they want and you should definitely know what your competitors are doing.
Be prepared to compare the outcomes of sessions involving senior management (perceived reality), against the findings from the employee sessions (actual reality). Address the internal problems first before attempting to launch any employer branding activity.

3. Know your target audience.

What are their values and expectations? What tools are they using to search for jobs and potential employers? What are they looking for in a future employer? What is important to one group might not be important to another. Make sure the message fits the audience, and be prepared to have different messaging if you wish to appeal to diverse skill groups? This may also mean a complete shift in the way you approach your resourcing.

4. Develop your Employer Value Proposition (EVP)

Based on the outcomes of your research, your EVP is the commitment you make to your current and future employees. Develop a short statement – we would suggest no more than a dozen words, as it needs to be concise and clear. Create synergy with your corporate brand as the most successful employer brands do not stand alone. They are in sync with the overall company brand and will possess key elements of the company’s values as a whole.

5. Consider your candidate experience.

  • Explore the application process through a candidate’s eyes. Is the website engaging? Does their CV go into a “black hole” when they apply? You really need to take every touch point of the candidate experience into consideration. 
  • Why would someone want to work for your company? Explore the reasons why people would love to work for your company through focus groups and workshops. Be objective: the process is about discovering what your culture is about, not what you wish it would be. 
  • Your brand message should be seen, felt and heard by all – even when a candidate is interviewing. The culture of your company should be felt the minute anyone walks through the front door.

6. Clearly communicate with all your audiences

This is also an area where you need to consider both internal and external factors. Internally you should be developing an employee induction program – this is a working document, and depending on the size of your company, may need to have many versions – regional, divisional, even departmental. Alongside a clear induction programme, will be training materials and a well-developed intranet.

Externally you will need to consider revising any recruitment advertising to ensure consistency of brand message, as well as company website/s and also any promotion at industry events and careers fairs.

7. Measure and evaluate your success

Once you’ve implemented your employer brand you can start to review a number of areas to measure the ROI. These should include turnover/retention rates, flow of applications, cost per hire and annual employee satisfaction surveys to understand loyalty and engagement.

Employer branding is a complex subject and to truly make it a success it will need to be developed and delivered with a dedicated focus over a period of time, with buy-in from many stakeholders within your business.