Some key Human Resources objectives

The human resources division of any company has the daunting task of ensuring that the company has the best and most effective workforce possible. For this reason the human resources division plays a vital role in any company, and especially when it comes to the overall employee satisfaction and their well-being. It is therefore imperative that the Human Resources department have a finger on the pulse at all times when it comes to the company’s goals and objectives, and that they are able to constantly look at new ways to keep the employees happy, motivated and on the right track.

Employee morale
One of the key functions of any human resources department should be to keep employee morale up. This is especially important during hard times, such as when the economy is not good, or the company is cutting back. Employees need to feel secure and valued. It is up to the human resources department to ensure that the work environment is up to the right standard, and that the employees are motivated and looked after.

Introduce incentive programs
Part of the human resources departments’ role should be to include looking into and implementing incentives and benefits for employees. The aim should be to introduce the right balance of incentives and benefits to motivate the employees to perform at their best. Almost all companies will offer some benefits to its employees, either to appear competitive and to attract job seekers, or to comply with regulations.

Develop star performers
It is up to the human resources department to be constantly in touch with management in order to ensure that leadership development is being addressed, and that all managers and those in line for management roles are being supported, trained and mentored effectively. It is important that future leaders are provided with the correct training and tools in order to succeed.

Recruitment, training and staffing
It vital that the human resources department be in a position where it is able to deal effectively with recruiting, training and staffing needs. They need to be able to devise strategies to attract job seekers to the company, and to manage headcount and the recruitment process. Training is also very important, it is the human resources departments’ responsibility to figure out what training is required and how to go about doing the training in such a way as to have the least impact on the productivity of the company’s employees.

Increase productivity
The human resources department should work hand in hand with management and their departments to ensure that employee productivity is at a peak. Issues around work routines need to be analysed and adjusted as required in order to increase productivity.

Implement strategies and policies
One of the roles of the human resources department should be to implement strategies and policies relating to the management of individuals, taking into account ethical business practices and costs.

Conflict resolution
It is the duty of the human resources department to also weed out and resolve issues amongst employees. Even though companies generally work hard to find employees who are a good fit for the company’s culture, there is still inevitably conflict and issues that are going to arise from time to time. This is because there are so many different personalities within a work environment, and means that conflict is bound to arise from time to time. It is up to the human resources department do deal with the conflict as and when it arises, as when conflict does not get dealt with it can result in resignations or firing which will cost the company money.

Working in human resources can be tough. It is imperative for any company that has a human resources department to ensure that they hire a team that is able to understand the business and where it is going. Also that the human resources team is able to identify and understand the core of the business and what they want from it. Also that they are able to build a relationship with those who work for the company. They also need to be able to provide solutions and identify risks within the company.

The bottom line is that the human resources department of any organisation holds a tremendous amount of responsibility. They deal with the people issues of the company, including the recruiting of its employees, training them, motivating them, as well as handing areas such as performance reviews and ensuring that the work environment is conducive to their well-being and productivity.

Women in mining in Canada

Mining has traditionally been made of a predominately male workforce, and although the trend is that males still dominate the mining industry, there are signs in recent years that indicate that there is a growing role for women in the mining industry.

However even though it appears that there are more women in mining than in past years, from what I can see it seems that women continue to be highly over represented in certain sectors of the mining industry such as clerical, healthcare and human resources. Whilst men still seem to be over represented in trades, operator and labourer jobs. For the mining industry which is very labour intensive, this generally means an over representation of males. It is however not only the mining industry which is over represented by males; it is also happening in the construction, as well as the oil and gas and utilities industries.

It is not easy to find statistics as to exactly what percentage of the mining industry in Canada is made up of women, but a 2010 report by Women in Mining Canada, which used the most recent data available from statistics Canada, stated that as far back as in 2006, 14% of the Canadian workforce was made up of women. What was interesting to note was that the majority of these women were in administrative or culinary positions.

According to an article by Catalyst, women in 2011 only represented around 11.2% of the Construction industry in Canada and 9.0% in the US. In Mining and the oil and gas extraction industries they represented around 19.0% in Canada, and around 13.2% in the US, and in Utilities around 24.7% in Canada and 23.3% in the US.

Some other interesting stats in the article by Catalyst was as to how few women there are in certain occupations, many of these relevant to the mining industry.

It seems that the main reasons that the mining industry has failed in the past to attract women over the years, not only in Canada but worldwide, was mainly around hours that were generally not flexible, as well as the gender pay gaps that existed. Employment in mining is often characterised by working in remote locations, where one is involved in hard physical labour and very long work shifts. This has been very discouraging for women considering a career in mining, especially for those who have children.

Many companies not only in Canada, but around the world, have tried really hard in recent years to find ways to improve the workplace for women, ranging from trying to introduce more flexible work practices as well as working closely with educational institutes to try to attract more women to the mining industry. They have also worked hard to address the issues of gender pay gaps. Many mining companies have now instituted parent friendly work rosters and shifts, as well as improving the work conditions. Many have introduced onsite childcare, extended maternity leave, couples on site housing, as well as gender inclusive work environments. With all these efforts being made to attract women to the industry, it seems that there are definitely changes taking place in the industry and there is definitely a place for women in mining. Attitudes around women in the mining industry have also shifted and for the better.

The invention of organisations such as Women in Mining, which is a global operation with a voice all over the world, has created an opportunity for those women who are working in mining, or considering working in the mining industry, to connect with each other all over the world. This has in turn drawn a lot of attention to the inequalities in the mining industry. However there is still a long way to go when you look at the numbers, but progress has been made.

A recent report from the Mining Association of Canada said that companies in the mining sector will need to hire at least 14 000 people over the next decade to replace those who are going to be retiring and to fill new positions. With many mining companies worldwide needing to address their skills shortages, women not only in Canada but also worldwide, continue to be a massive untapped talent pool available, but not being properly utilised. It is very important for mining companies to continue to consider strategies towards recruiting women into this under represented sector. It is vital that young girls and women be informed about the career opportunities available to them in the mining industry.

The importance of staying abreast of new training in the mining industry

Staying up to date with the latest training in the mining industry is imperative, especially in today’s market, where job losses have been rampant in recent years, and the mining industry having been especially hard hit.  Amidst all the uncertainty, it is important to remember that experienced, highly trained and competent people contribute to the success of the company, so in order to reduce your chances of being laid off, or if you are already unemployed remember that in order to be able to find a job you need to make yourself indispensable. Having a degree behind your name is in today’s world is not necessarily enough.  To stay competitive and in demand, you will probably need to look into additional training and certifications to stay relevant, up to date and in demand.

While training can be expensive, if you can afford it, the long term benefits are worth its weight in gold. The better qualified you are, the better chances you have of being employed. The key to this though is to have your finger on the pulse at all times and know what skills are in demand. The reality is that there are a lot of people who are highly qualified and still finding it difficult to find a job, so it’s imperative to ensure that when you look into training and furthering your education, that you pick the right courses.

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How to spot dishonesty in an interview

Dishonesty amongst job seekers is sadly at an all-time high, in many cases caused by the state of the economies worldwide, and the fact that it is getting harder and harder to find a job. For this reason when job hunting it might seem enticing to exaggerate or leave out certain parts of your career history. Numerous studies suggest that around half of all new hires were not entirely honest on their resume. The job market worldwide is becoming tougher and tougher, and there are more and more applications for each job that becomes available, which is creating a situation where job seekers become desperate and therefor are more prone to being dishonest when going through the interviewing process. Some reports state that on average only 1 in 50 applicants for a professional position receive a job offer. These are very depressing stats for job seekers, and possibly one of the main reasons that job seekers are not always honest in the interviewing process.

It seems that the things people lie about most during interviews are around their education, the dates they were employed, their job titles and their skills. Another common lie is that of inflating their salary history. Job seekers lie about their salary in order to negotiate a better pay with their potential employer. Things have become so bad that job seekers may purchase diplomas from online sources which are basically non-existent universities who have convincing websites; including addresses, phone number and even people answering the phone to verify the qualification should potential employees smell a rat and try to phone to confirm. Recruiters are aware that this type of thing is going on, but are often not sure what to do in order to protect themselves.

Apart from the obvious which is doing background checks, they are not sure how else to gauge who is telling the truth and who is not. However there are signs that one can look out for. Firstly resumes, cover letters and employment applications should always be very carefully reviewed. Ensure there are no inconsistencies with dates, reasons for leaving, or lapses between jobs etc.

When interviewing, recruiters should ask very specific questions with regards to information that the job seeker may have included on their resume. Vague, broad rambling answers are sometimes a warning sign, as are stating that it is “confidential” when asked who they reported to etc. Warning bells should sound when there are pauses and hesitations when asked questions that should be relatively easy to answer. If you ask a job seeker a question that they should automatically know the answer to and they hesitate, that may be a warning sign. If you feel they did not answer the question properly the first time round, ask the same question several times at different stages of the interview, and ensure you get the same answer. If you don’t there is a good chance that the job seeker is not being honest.

The relationship between employer and employee is based on trust. Deception or dishonesty may very well be grounds to terminate the employment relationship. So it is important for all parties involved that the relationship starts off on a clean slate. It is so easy when job hunting, especially when desperate for a job, to exaggerate or omit certain details of ones work history. One may feel that it is not that important to mention having been fired from a job, or are not honest about the time frame spent with a company, or exaggerate responsibilities and skill level. Job seekers often worry that a former employer will not give them a good reference and may be dishonest because of this. There are all sorts of reasons that job seekers will be dishonest during the interviewing process. According to an article on Global Post, in 2011 international human resources and business service corporation ADP reported that 46 percent of employment background checks did not match up with information provided by job seekers. Always remember that misrepresenting ones background in any way during the interviewing process can keep you from being hired, or result in your being fired.

The reality is that the vast majority of job seekers have some areas of concern in their employment history, regardless as to whether it’s because of a firing, or because of a worry over a previous employer giving a bad reference. Whatever the reason is, it’s always best to be honest. Rather than fabricating ones employment history, be honest and straightforward. Focus on your strengths, and what you may have learnt from any bad experiences you may have had in the past. Honesty always goes a long way.

Doing way more than what you were hired to do in your job?

Are you in the position where it has dawned on you, that what you were hired to do, and what you are actually doing, are two very different things? And that what you are doing, way exceeds what is in your job description. And not only that, but to add insult to injury, your manager doesn’t seem to have noticed, or given you any form of recognition for your efforts?

Before you get worked up and start becoming resentful about the situation, sit down and think about the additional responsibilities and what they may mean. If your manager is assigning things to you that he/she feels that other co-workers are unable to do, then take it as a compliment and keep in mind that this might actually work in your favour in the long run. This means that your manager trusts you and values your contribution to the company. If this is the case, you may well be in the position where not only your job description, but your job title and probably your salary will need to be revised, and that ultimately if you handle your cards right, you may be up for a promotion. However how you go about getting it, is very important.

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The importance of hands-on experience for students looking for jobs in the mining industry

Students often do not realize the importance of internships, nor how completing internships can shape their future career. Great academic results and a well presented resume used to be enough to land you a great job in the mining industry, but times have changed, and with the economy the way it is now, companies want students who have had real hands on practical on the job training.

Because of this there is no better way to get this experience than through internships. Internships give you the hands on experience that companies look for. Even if you are offered an internship where you are not going to be remunerated, don’t turn your nose up at it too quickly. It may be providing you with the stepping stones needed to get your career going and land your first real job. Also remember that this gives you the opportunity to prove your worth, and you would be surprised to see how many interns end up being employed full time by the company they are doing the internship for, when they perform and have proved their worth. Even if the company you are doing the internship for is not in the position to offer you a permanent position, if you have worked hard and gone the extra mile, they will certainly be able to provide you not only with the necessary skills you need for your resume, but also great a reference letter that you can keep on file for future reference.

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Reasons you are not getting responses to your resume

Job hunting can be frustrating and hard, especially when you put the effort into preparing your resume and then send it off to numerous companies and hear nothing back from any of them. It seems the trend in recent years is that if you are one of the fortunate ones, you may get an acknowledgement or receipt of your resume, or a rejection letter. However in many cases you can expect to hear nothing, and be left wondering if your resume has disappeared into a bottomless pit. Job seekers want to know one way or another, they want to know even if its bad news, and when they hear nothing it can be very demoralising and many job seekers tend to take it personally.

There are however reasons as to why your resume may not be getting the responses and attention that you were hoping for. One of the main reasons that this may happen, is that you may be applying for a job for which you do not match the criteria in terms of what they are looking for. You may in your mind have all the experience that they are looking for, but may not have the right qualification or amount of years of experience, that the recruiter requires. If a company says they want somebody who has 10 years’ experience and you only have 7, this can and probably will count against you. This is especially likely to happen in today’s market where there are plenty of job seekers applying for every job that is available, as this creates a situation where employers can become picky. The bottom line is that candidates that are an exact match or very close match will be considered first, so if there is somebody better matched to the job out there than you are, you will lose out.
Another reason that you may not be getting the right reception could be that your resume is not up to scratch. It may be too long winded, or it may not adequately describe your work experience and skills. It is important to also have a brief overview at the start of your resume, which will give a summary of your skills and qualifications. If the recruiter likes what they see in this section they will read further, if not they can lose interest.
It’s important to also tailor your resume according to the job that you are responding to. You need to ensure that your resume adequately covers all your experience related to the specific job that you are applying for.

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Roundtable – the low down on mining labour trends for 2014

What does the labour market in the global mining industry look like in 2014? Four industry insiders from key mining areas around the world give us the low-down on the current trends and challenges affecting skills and jobs availability in the mining industry.

Most companies in the mining industry today are preoccupied with cost-cutting and streamlining operations as mineral deposits are discovered in more remote and adverse locations, some only accessible by air.

This has resulted in the advent of a fly-in and fly-out work culture and employees demanding higher wages which puts extra pressure on vital cost management. However, despite the current economic downturn and increasing cost pressures in the global mining industry, many remain positive for growth and expect the industry’s demand for skilled people to increase.

For example, according to research undertaken by Jody Elliott Consulting, in 2011 the mining industries of South Africa, Canada, the US and South America cited significant growth plans and will need more than 250,000 new entrants to the industry globally from 2012 to 2017.
So what is the real story of the global mining industry’s jobs market in 2014? Is the industry attracting and retaining the kind of skilled individuals, including women and indigenous people, it requires, or have cost pressures resulted in a drop in demand?

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Cold Covers Seminar and Short Course – April 7-9, Whistler, Canada

Closure of mine waste disposal facilities in cold climates such as those of Northern Canada and Alaska pose special challenges. Covers for mine waste disposal facilities demand special attention and engineering techniques. And if the waste is potentially acid generating, the closure and cover requirements are even more stringent.

Organized by InfoMine, the upcoming Cold Covers seminar and short course addresses mine closure challenges specific to cold regions, with an in depth look at cover systems.

This highly technical event is an ideal professional development opportunity for those involved, or looking to get involved, in northern region mine waste handling; mine closure projects; or cover systems design and installation. The accompanying short course, “Cover system and landform design in cold regions”, is coordinated and delivered by Mike O’Kane (O’Kane Consultants), Gordon McKenna (BGC Engineering), and Justin Straker (Integral Ecology Inc.).

Hosted in Whistler BC, this is a highly technical seminar and short course offering, so space is limited.

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Foreigners considering working in Peru, what you need to know

Peru is in South America, it is bordered by Ecuador and Columbia to the north, with Brazil and Bolivia to the east and Chile situated to the south. It is the 20th largest country in the world and the third largest in South America, after Brazil and Argentina. Peru is a country of diversity, and offers at least 8 different climates depending on where you are, including a climate that is desert like in some areas to lush and tropical, and freezing cold in other areas.

There are roughly thirty million people living in Peru, with a quarter of them living in Lima. Although Peru is a country rich in natural resources and wonderful tourist destinations, there are still reports that roughly between 27% – 31% of the population live in poverty. Peru is the 41st largest economy in the world, but there is a huge discrepancy between the rich and the poor. Things do appear to be on the up though, and unemployment is on the decrease with reports that it is now as low as 7.7%. The other good news is that as of 2012 Peru was reported to be one of the fastest growing economies worldwide.

Because of its diverse geography, Peru is blessed with a huge variety of natural resources. Luckily the mining industry in Peru is well regulated and has relatively straightforward mining laws, all this is good news for foreigners wanting to work in Peru.

According to a report by KPMG labour in mining is abundant and trainable; however there are some shortages of highly skilled workers in some fields. The report also said that in 2011, the mining sector had around 120 000 employees. It also said that the National Society of Mining, Petroleum and Energy (SNMPE) estimates that an additional 40 000 employees would be required to complete the mining projects and investments plans currently in progress. This could spell good news for those from abroad wanting to break into the mining industry in Peru as the mining sector is planning on opening some employment opportunities to foreign professionals and technicians. Peruvian law does however stipulate that no more than 20 percent of a company’s workforce can be non-Peruvian.

If you are an expatriate looking to work in Peru, getting a work permit may not be as difficult as it would seem, if you have a job. According to an article by Internations Connecting Global Minds, you have two options:

  • Enter Peru with a tourist visa, which is valid for either 90 or 183 days. (More information on tourist & business visas can be found in our article on Moving to Peru.) Once you have a job lined up and have paid attention to the above requirements for working in a Peruvian or international company, you may apply for a working visa. This will usually be valid as long as your contract goes for. You can apply for a working visa at the Dirección General de Migraciones y Naturalización del Perú (DIGEMIN), which is the Peruvian general directorate of migration and naturalization in Lima.
  • Enter Peru with a business visa (not to be confused with a working visa). The same applies as above, except that you only have a 90-day stay. It may be easier to acquire a working visa while you are already in possession of a business visa, since you are then able to network more easily. Again, once you have found a job, you must apply for a working permit from DIGEMIN.

For more detailed information on what you need in addition to your work contract, the best thing would be to visit a Peruvian embassy or consulate near you.

The minimum wage in Peru in 2013 is approximately $235.00 per month. Your living expenses will obviously depend upon the lifestyle, but it is possible to live quite comfortably in Peru on a wage of around $500 per month. This is a far cry from those living in Canada, the States and many other regions. The mining industry is generally also an industry that pays well, so for expatriates, especially those with a skill that is in demand, they can expect to earn significantly more and live very comfortably in Peru.

However along with the good, there is always the bad. It is not all sugar and spice in Peru, and there is a certain element of corruption. It is not uncommon to see policemen collecting bribes, and corruption can be found at every level of society and sadly those in power often take advantage of those beneath them.

Also remember that there is a “hora peruana” which means Peruvian time. This means that Peruvians will often arrive at least one hour later than the appointed time. This is not regarded as being rude or offensive. It is important to remember that things in Peru can happen very slowly, so if you are a perfectionist and want things done immediately, working in Peru may not be for you. Never expect things to be done on time, or exactly the way they are intended to be. because you could be in for a lot of frustration and disappointment.

There is also a lot of poverty and along with poverty there is always an element of crime. However Peru has been reported to be safe so long as you follow the same traveller’s precautions as you would in any other country. You do however need to be alert and use your common sense, but the main safety issue in Peru appears to be petty theft.

If you are an expatriate earning a good wage, your money will go far further for food, rent, entertainment etc. than many other countries. Peru is also beautiful, diverse and interesting and the people are warm and friendly. They love to celebrate, no matter how small or big the occasion. They love to spend time talking, eating, drinking and dancing. Peruvians will not drink their own bottle of beer, but will rather share one at a time amongst everybody, filling small glasses over and over again.

The bottom line is if you are an expat with a desire to explore and experience new adventures, you could spend a lifetime exploring Peru.