2006 Philadelphia Annual Meeting (2225 October 2006)
Paper No. 9-6
Presentation Time: 9:25 AM-9:45 AM

THE VIEW FROM HERE: SUPPLYING TALENT TO THE MINERAL INDUSTRY

DOGGETT, Michael D., Geological Sciences and Geolgical Engineering, Queen's University, Kingston, ON K7L 3N6, Canada, doggett@geol.queensu.ca and THEMAN, Diana L., Policy Studies, Queens University, Kingston, ON K7L 3N6, Canada

The current mineral commodities boom has resulted in a tight supply of skilled workers ranging from university-educated geologists and engineers to tradespeople, miners, and equipment operators. This paper addresses the supply of the first of these groups university educated professionals -- with a focus on geology graduates. The challenges faced by a cyclical mining industry are reflected in the employment opportunities for geology graduates. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the exploration sector where the demand for exploration geologists can double or halve within cycles of five years or less.

Geology programs in universities are generally small in comparison to other science and engineering disciplines. This creates pressure from university administration to maintain minimum enrollment levels. As a result, many geology programs have been forced to diversify away from core courses in field and economic geology to incorporate a broader curriculum of environmental, atmosphere and oceanography courses. These changes have created a perception that the current shortage of new geologists is not just a quantity issue but also an issue of quality. Do geology graduates have the requisite knowledge, field and social skills to meet the demands of a booming minerals business?

Impending retirements will create a talent shortage that will be difficult for the minerals industry to mitigate. Existing educational infrastructure is probably sufficient to meet the needs of the industry if graduates can be convinced to direct their careers toward the minerals industry. However, the competition from other sectors for talented graduates is increasing. Mining companies and universities need to develop aggressive and strategic approaches to human resources including innovative methods of recruitment that identify talented people early in their university training and encourage them to pursue careers in relevant fields. The historical pattern of staffing up during the upturns and shedding employees in the downturns will no longer sustain our industry nor the university programs supplying the talent to it.

2006 Philadelphia Annual Meeting (2225 October 2006)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 9
Addressing Present and Future Energy, Mineral, and Water Issues in the Classroom: The Need to Prepare Both Educated Citizens and Geoscientists
Pennsylvania Convention Center: 113 B
8:00 AM-12:00 PM, Sunday, 22 October 2006

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 38, No. 7, p. 33

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