Labour shortage threatens Canada's mining industry: Ernst & Young

    Companies must think outside the box to recruit, retain talent

    TORONTO, Oct. 23 /CNW/ - Canada's mining sector will need an extra 70,000
new workers over the next 10 years to meet the industry's projected growth
needs, says a new Ernst & Young report.
    "As the supply of skilled workers continues to fall and demand continues
to rise, mining and metals companies will need to get creative to solve this
problem," says Bruce Sprague, Ernst & Young partner and human capital practice
leader in British Columbia. "If mining companies want to deliver the growth
they have planned, they need to rethink the way they recruit and retain
talent. Otherwise, the shortage of skilled labour could become a significant
strategic threat to the industry."
    "What's interesting, is that if this study had been conducted today, it's
more likely that the credit crisis would trump labour issues," says Sprague.
"However, the current focus on the financial industry doesn't take away from
the fact that the labour shortage issue is expected to persist in the years
ahead and is worth examining now."
    In Canada, 40% of the industry's workforce will retire by 2014, and staff
turnover is also very high. According to the report, the demand for technical
talent such as engineers, metallurgists and geoscientists is greater than
ever, yet the pool of graduates from universities with the right skills-set is
insufficient. What's more, the competition for skilled labour is driving up
salaries, boosting overall mining costs, which are already under pressure from
equipment shortages and rising raw material prices.
    "Companies that ignore the talent shortage in an already competitive
environment do so at their own peril," says Sprague. "It becomes much harder
to control costs effectively if experienced staff retires while companies
continue to take on large projects. Innovation could also suffer, leading many
companies to lose their competitive advantage."
    The report says many mining and metals companies are responding to the
shortage with a traditional approach, which is fast becoming inadequate.
Sprague says it's time for mining companies to consider creative approaches
for everything from financial compensation packages to flexible work
arrangements and locations. "The industry needs to find better ways to build
talent from within their organizations, explore new ways to attract graduates
and start looking outside the industry to other related fields, such as
manufacturing or civil engineering.
    Sprague also notes that companies can get started by asking themselves
some key questions, including:

    -  Do we have a competitive employee value proposition?
    -  Is it aligned to the preferences of the existing workforce?
    -  How is the external environment affecting employee preferences?
    -  Is there an active employee retention program?
    -  Do we provide sufficiently flexible remuneration structuring?
    -  How do we properly support a globally mobile workforce?
    -  Do we have the right strategic alliances with institutions and

    About Ernst & Young

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For further information:

For further information: To receive a copy of this report or to speak to
a spokesperson, please contact: Amanda Olliver,,
(416) 943-7121; Brooke McLachlan,, (604) 899-3597;
Julie Fournier,, (514) 874-4308

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