According to a MiHR Sector study report, employee work motivation is typically comprised of two elements: intrinsic motivators and extrinsic motivators.

Intrinsic motivators involve internally generated rewards such as challenge, excitement and the opportunity to demonstrate ones skills and abilities. Extrinsic motivators are externally generated, and typically involve factors provided by the organisation, such as compensation, benefits and opportunities for advancement.

According to the results from the MiHR Student and Knowledge Workers Survey, Knowledge Workers in general, are more highly motivated by the intrinsic aspects of their work. More specifically they need to feel they are making progress and engaging in meaningful work that is free of organisational obstacles and hindrances.

Whilst one extrinsic factor, being compensation, emerged as a prime motivator for the future career decisions of all students surveyed, the remaining factors were mostly intrinsic in nature. They included the opportunity to engage in rewarding work and apply ones skills, opportunities for learning and development, and having a flexible work environment. Viewed as a whole, the primary motivators for students in both mining and non-mining related programs were not reward based, but tied more to issues to personal fulfillment and career advancement.

Top Factors Influencing Students’ Future Career Decisions

Students in mining-related programs 
1. Rewarding work
2. Compensation
3. Exciting work
4. Learning and developing opportunities
5. Ability to apply skills

Students in non-mining related programs
1. Rewarding work
2. Learning and development opportunities
3. Job security
4. Compensation
5. Flexible work environment

Respondents were asked to choose 3 options from a list of 26 factors - Source: MiHR Professional Survey, 2011

The findings from the MiHR student survey did differ slightly from the motivations of the Knowledge Workers already working in the sector. When current mining Knowledge Workers were asked what attracted them to the industry in the first place, the overwhelming majority chose compensation as their primary motivator. Whilst the mining and exploration sector was able to count on its lucrative wages as the number one attractor for young workers in the past, the student survey findings illustrate that the industry may not be able to rely on compensation alone, to attract the new generation of Knowledge Workers.

Top Factors that attracted Current Mining and Exploration Knowledge Workers to the Sector

1. Compensation
2. Ability to apply skills
3. Intense/exciting work
4. International work opportunities
5. Positive/rewarding work

Respondents were asked to choose 3 options from a list of 26 factors - Source: MiHR Professional Survey, 2011

So even though, according to these results, money may not be the primary attractor for students in the industry, they do have some clear expectations that they will be well compensated for their efforts.

However the bottom line is that companies need to ensure that not only are future Knowledge Workers compensated well, but that the work they are offered is rewarding and challenging, and that their intrinsic needs are being met.

It appears from this report, that in order for mining companies to be able to attract and retain young graduates, they are going to have to offer work that is challenging and rewarding, as it is not all about the money for these young graduates….

2 Responses to “Main motivators for mining students wanting to pursue a career in mining”

  1. Michael King

    This is a very exciting report as it as one learn how to answer interview question like, “why do you need to join this organization or why you need quit your current job?”. From the content of this report, leaders & or employers can also learn to understand how to motivate & retain their employees.

  2. Babs

    Had a Canadian friend who worked in an asbestos mine in the Yukon. Twelve co-workers ended up with mesothelioma years later…He had not had a problem. The cold….Minus 60 degrees in February…In the Yukon.


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