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Organisational Improvement Through Graduate Program Evolution


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Author C Lousberg and M McCarthy


Attraction, recruitment and retention of quality mining engineers is becoming increasingly difficult for many mining companies. Part of the problem is attracting young professionals, especially given the decline in graduating engineer numbers, and the other is balancing the new engineer’s development with business needs.

The evolution of the graduate program at Olympic Dam over the last five years has resulted in substantial benefits for both the engineer and the company. The program has developed to provide structured exposure to key areas of the mine enabling new engineers to step into vacated roles as the need arises. The pool of quality engineers generated by the graduate program is a buffer against high industry turnover and helps reduce future recruitment expenditure.

Olympic Dam’s program goes beyond conventional recruitment of graduate engineers. Innovations designed to improve intake include the employment of graduate engineers as well as final year students, retraining of existing personnel from other backgrounds and fast track recruitment for previous vacation students. By employing a cross-section of professionals to complement the generic university graduate, the company takes full advantage of the relevant lifestyle experience belonging to the individual, which is a substantial factor in turnover. Study assistance and a salary paid for final year students and mature age students often creates a loyalty that lasts beyond graduation. Careful selection of vacation students increases the ease of recruitment at a later stage and ensures that full advantage is taken of the relationship developed previously between the company and young professional.

The evolution of recruitment at Olympic Dam has seen a decline in the turnover statistics of young mining professionals.

Lousberg, C and McCarthy, M, 2005. Organisational improvement through graduate
program evolution, in Proceedings
Underground Operators’ Conference 2005

Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).