Is training unskilled people the answer to mining's skills shortage?

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Our latest mining industry poll took a fresh look at mining’s skills shortage.

Our latest poll again tackled the topic of the mining skills shortage but this time from a different viewpoint: we were looking for a potential solution.

The skills shortage in mining is starting to gain media attention, and those who have been in the industry a while will be having flashbacks to the last boom and the madness it created.

Our latest poll was a follow-up to another recent poll about the mining skills shortage, where we asked if it was getting harder to recruit people and who was to blame. The results of that poll can be read here.

This month we received another awesome response, with in excess of 460 people lodging a vote.

The votes were cast as follows:

Poll question: Do you think part of the problem could be solved if mining companies were willing to employ more unskilled people and train them?

Yes 404 87.26%
No  48 10.37%
Not sure  11 2.38%


Wow! Overwhelmingly people felt that training unskilled people was a solution to the skills shortage problem. But let’s first handle the scepticism and the obvious potential sample ‘problems’.

Potential sample problem number 1

Problem: “I guess most people not in mining would answer ‘yes’ to such a question.”

Our answer: Possibly. However, we also asked every voter to declare if they were working in mining right now – and they ALL were!

Potential sample problem number 2

Problem: “I’ll bet more frontline workers than supervisors and managers answered yes.”

Answer: Not so. We also asked voters to declare if they were a supervisor/manager.

Of the 463 voters, 140 were supervisor/managers and 323 were not. That is to be expected in a large sample of mining industry employees.

However, where potential sample problem numbers were totally refuted was when we analysed the answers of the two groups.

Supervisors/Managers.  Non S/Ms
Yes 87.14%  87.31%
No 10.71%  10.22%
Not sure 2.14%  2.48%


This shows there is total alignment across all levels of the workforce that employing unskilled people and training them is a potential solution.

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A solution for mining’s skills shortage

This is surely a route the mining industry must take if we’re to solve — or at least start to address — the skills shortage.

We must start by assessing people for:

  • Good natural attitudes to safe work practises
  • Good communication skills
  • Teamwork.

We must also look for people with experience in crossover industries. For example:

  • Farming
  • Trades
  • Heavy equipment operations.

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Mining People is in the process of creating an assessment service to do just that and if you’re interested in being part of the pilot program, please let us know.

We’ve also written other articles and conducted polls on several related topics which might also be of interest.

If you are looking for deep insights into the mining markets and would like MPi to conduct some targeted industry research on your behalf, then please email us.

Steve Heather signature
Steve Heather – BAppSc (Mining Engineering) WASM, FRCSA

Managing Director & Principal Executive Search - Mining People International (MPi)

Fellow/National Board Member – Recruitment, Consulting & Staffing Association Aust. & N.Z. (RCSA)

Steve.heather@miningpeople.com.au