Miners must prepare their workforce today, to meet the demands of tomorrow’s digital age, or risk future growth and innovation.
Gaston Carrion, talent and organisation lead for Accenture’s resources practice in Australia and New Zealand, says that as the use of autonomous vehicles and other advanced technologies increases, the profile of the future mining workforce could change by up to 80% by 2024.
Carrion was speaking at the 5th International Mining and Resources Conference, held in Melbourne, Australia this week.
“The very concept of work is being redefined due to changing workforce demographics and rapid advancements in technology,” Carrion said.
Carrion believes that the future mining workforce will be highly connected, as people work in tandem with artificial intelligence (AI) to improve safety, productivity and profitability.
“Based on the current rate of technology adoption, the digital mine is no longer a pipe dream, so it’s crucial that miners review their attraction, development and retention talent approaches”, he continued.
“Now more than ever, mining and metals companies need to look at their future talent needs and establish workforce and technology strategies to ensure they have a robust and appropriately skilled supply of employees.”
Accenture’s recent Reworking the Revolution research further highlights the need for human-machine collaboration and reskilling. It found 66% of Australian workers for example thought the share of roles requiring collaboration with AI would rise in the next three years and only 3% of CEOs planned to significantly increase investment in reskilling their workforce in the next three years.
Carrion outlined three key ways for mining companies to get ahead of the curve to foster this future workforce, centred around attraction, development and retention.
He explained that mining will need new skills in the future, from technologists and data scientists, to partnership managers and improvement specialists.
“Miners must reimagine talent attraction in a battle for the best and brightest. New talent pools should be established, both internal and external, with proactive sourcing key.
“Diversity should also be a priority for miners, and many companies have committed to fostering a more gender balanced workforce. Ultimately, a diverse workforce is more engaged and productive, and will allow miners to navigate industry disruption far more effectively.”
Development will also be vital as a workforce strategy, in terms of reskilling programmes, career advancement and organisational culture.
Carrion stated that reskilling on digital, analytics, process improvement, remote operations and applications of AI is imperative, extending beyond employees and into contractors.
He also detailed the area of retention and stressed its importance. Carrion believes retention of high performers shouldn’t be an afterthought, and that new leadership can help refresh and empower the existing workforce to embrace innovation quickly.
It’s clear that the industry is facing a major shift as a result of digitisation, and the challenge will be engaging and preparing the digital worker of tomorrow. Both in the near term and in the coming decades, this will be essential to drive the industry forward and fully embrace new and emerging technologies.