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We talked to ENR Global, to get their feelings on what trends we can expect to see in mining recruitment in 2018.

ENR Global is a London based boutique executive recruitment and HR consulting firm focused on the global mining, energy and infrastructure sectors. They work with organisations across the value chain within our specialist sectors to identify, engage, and recruit top-class talent.

What do you see as being the single biggest challenge facing recruiters in mining in 2018?

In the last year, there has been a recovery in international commodity prices, which has triggered an upturn in the sector. Exploration budgets and capital expenditure have increased, and we have seen a number of new projects (both greenfield and brownfield) coming online. The single biggest challenge for recruiters is “availability of top class talent” at the right time and cost.

At the more senior end of the market and within specialist skillsets, the talent pool for experienced professionals is finite. During the downturn, redundancies across the sector had driven employees to other sectors and jobs with better work life balance, and one of the challenges in 2018 will be to entice them back, given the increase in demand.

Do you see mining jobs becoming less in demand as digitalization technologies such as AI, big data online platforms and computers that communicate with each other grow? And if so, do you have any advice for those in mining, so as not to be squeezed out of the market?

Like all other sectors, repetitive and low skilled jobs in mining will be substituted by technology. However, in the long run there will be creation of new jobs that are technology focused. The only way companies can cut costs and increase efficiency will be to embed digital technologies in every dimension of how mines are built, operated and managed.

New technologies are impacting the sector in a positive way and will continue to help mining companies become more efficient. The “digital mine” will be a reality and AI and big data will empower knowledge workers. To seize the full potential of digitisation, mining companies must prepare today’s workers for tomorrow’s jobs.

From a career perspective, employees need to be more conscious on the impact of technology, and train to become more technology savvy. They must upskill themselves with new technologies within their specific skillsets, to stay relevant.

Is the skills shortage that is predicted to hit the mining industry in the next 10 years due to an aging workforce in Canada, such an issue in other regions of the world from your experience? And if so where?

Skillset shortages has been one of the top risks for the mining sector globally. This risk is greater than ever before with all key mining locations like Canada, Australia, South Africa and South America facing a demand vs supply issue.

The emerging market and remote locations like Africa, Asia and the CIS face a bigger challenge, as getting projects off the ground and operations require experienced internationally mobile expatriate talent to work in these locations and train and upskill nationals.

• To what extent do you rely on AI candidate screening? (automated and machine-learning algorithms which are used to screen CVs and communicate with candidates)? And if so do you find it more helpful than the traditional methods of candidate screening?

At the present moment, we do not use AI or ML algorithms for screening and rely on the tried and tested traditional methods. However, as these technologies are evolving very rapidly, we will see more products in the market that will play a more significant part in the process. The most efficient approach would be to use technology without losing the human touch.

Diversity has been earmarked as one of the most pressing issues in the minds of many hiring managers, do you feel that sufficient inroads are being made into addressing this issue?

There is a lot of discussion around this topic and progress is being made, however we have a long way to go. As it stands, I find that, it is the larger organisations that push the diversity agenda while at the junior end of the market, it doesn’t seem to be a priority. For the organisations that have put diversity on centre stage, it is one potential solution to the demographic time bomb facing the sector.

D&I needs to be a critical aspect of the corporate agenda to ensure a diverse and inclusive workforce. D&I thinking, and practices must become a part of recruitment and talent management processes.

• There has been a lot of talk of an upswing in the mining industry, do you feel that the numbers of mining jobs available are in line with this? And if so, is there any sector in mining that you are noticing a big increase in available mining jobs?

After hitting the bottom of the cycle, real data and expert opinion reflect recovery and growth in 2018 and beyond. This year, we have seen a marked increase in recruitment activity especially opportunities within new greenfield projects, across levels and skills.

We have seen new technical leadership roles across mining, projects and engineering and functional leadership roles in finance, HSEC and CSR. At the middle management level, there is an increased demand for mining engineers and business analysts.

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