The professional skills shortage is intensifying, and commentators are predicting a shortfall in supply of qualified professionals for the mining industry, ranging from thousands to tens-of-thousands by 2020 (Tuckwell, 2011; Scoble, 2011; Laurence and Hebblewhite, 2011). Human resources are already stretched, and university graduates arriving in the workplace are often moved rapidly into management positions where there is limited scope to develop their engineering proficiency. This process may well be developing excellent young managers, but our industry is producing fewer excellent young engineers (Munro and Tilyard, 2009). Many believe that it is engineering excellence that is likely to be the key to our industry’s success in the decade to come.
An innovative in-house graduate development program has been created by specialists at the JK Centre in partnership with two mining companies. This program, known as MetSkill®, has been running throughout 2012. Groups of graduates have had to identify a process plant optimisation opportunity and embark on a structured program of data collection and analysis, facilitated by a ‘teaching team’ of researchers and consultants from the Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre (JKMRC) and JKTech. This group project culminates in a report-back session to senior company officials. Along the way, a series of short workshops and other activities provide opportunities to work on specialist skills, and support is also offered by senior technical specialists from the companies involved.
This paper outlines key features of the MetSkill® program, along with a report-card on progress in 2012 and plans for further program development in 2013.
Drinkwater, D and Bianco, N, 2012. Developing
minerals industry leaders by encouraging metallurgical excellence, in
Proceedings 11th AusIMM Mill Operators’ Conference, pp 287-290 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).