Over the last 6 months, there has been a rising groundswell of commentary promoting the need to head offshore in search of talent. With significant risks surrounding people's real technical capability as well as cultural fit, is this really the panacea that's being suggested or are there other avenues available to us?
Now, I'm not saying I have all the answers...... Just maybe though, some of this can and should be used in conjunction with more moderate use of international talent, than that generally being proposed.
Over the next few weeks, I intend to outline some of these perspectives that might help unlock the secrets of securing talent.
Bring back/introduce internships more broadly within the resources sector...........
The general pathway to a career in the more classical resource sector jobs is via full-time university study, followed by post-graduate employment. Decades ago, the vast majority of Mining Engineers, Geologists, and Surveyors graduating through the various School of Mines in Australia were studying part-time and holding down a full-time job in the mining industry within their area of study.
It's true that it would often take 6-7 years of study to get their formal qualifications, but at the end of that period, these people were often holding leadership positions, or at least had completed the required time on the tools. Accordingly, upon graduation, they were more likely, further advanced in their career than those that had been studying full time.
For individuals, it meant that they were able to start earning a reasonable income much earlier. In addition, they obtained on-the-job training that advanced their understanding of the practical applications of mining and geology and therefore assisted in their learnings in the class.
For mining companies, they got access to some very smart people much earlier than they otherwise would. With some on-the-job training provided, these people were able to do most things that their higher-paid graduates would do. With lower salaries for interns, it provides a cost-saving relative to graduates. More importantly, though, the future talent can be accessed now, and not in 4 years' time.
Whilst this part-time study combined with a full-time work approach was primarily the domain of the Schools of Mines, a more uniform and broader acceptance of this approach from the industry and the universities, may just help provide part of a viable solution to the looming skills crisis.
I'm keen to hear your views, one way or the other. So, whether you think I'm just plain crazy, or there's some potential merit, please let me know.