​The Future Of Mining Work

Few would argue that the 'Future of Work' is no longer a distant concept to be worried about at some point in the future but a very real, and very current, reality! Therefore, what does a current high school student considering a career in mining have to look forward to? What sort of skill sets will he, or she, require in the modern mining employment landscape? And ultimately, what occupations will still be around when they graduate?

In 2018, the Australian Department of Jobs and Small Business commissioned a Report report into the changing job landscape in Australia. However, although these figures are Australia specific, the trends they demonstrate are not unique to that country due to the global nature of mining. They'll be equally applicable to most developed countries with a well-established mining sector.

The following table Report [190214 The Future of Work the Changing Skills Landscape for Miners] provides an idea of where the major occupation groups within the industry are heading in terms of growth potential.

As you can see, our wannabe mining employee would be wise to steer clear of becoming a truck driver or an earthmoving plant operator. These roles within mining are increasingly slotted for automation as the industry moves towards moving people out of dangerous working environments. Drillers, shot firers, and miners likewise are forecast to decrease in demand as more of those roles become 'roboticised' as well. However, there is potential for those currently performing these roles to be reskilled into related fields where they can operate the equipment remotely. In fact, with their skill sets they're ideal candidates for this. Imagine being able to operate a drill rig out in the middle of nowhere from the comfort of an air-conditioned office in a city somewhere….

The table below from the same report sets out the probability for computerisation of respective jobs within mining. They've been ranked on a scale of 0 – 1; the higher the score, the more probable it is that the role will be computerised or automated. Roles within the transport and dispatch, and accounting sectors notably will also be affected and that's likely because the increasing use of blockchain with its ability to run smart contracts will automate much of the current ordering, dispatch, invoicing and account keeping functions. We took a brief look at blockchain in a previous article.

Occupation

Probability

Accountants

0.94

Accounting Clerks

0.98

Advertising, Public Relations and Sales Managers

0.01

Automotive Electrician

0.61

Chief Executives and Managing Directors

0.02

Civil Engineering Professionals

0.02

Commercial Cleaner

0.66

Contract, Program and Project Administrators

0.73

Crane, Hoist and Lift Operator

0.78

Drillers, Miners and Shot Firers

0.67

Earthmoving Plant Operators

0.94

Electrical Engineer

0.1

Electricians

0.15

Engineering Manager

0.02

Engineering Production Worker

0.92

Environmental Scientists

0.03

Finance Manager

0.07

General Clerks

0.96

General Managers

0.16

Geologists, Geophysicists and Hydrogeologists

0.32

Human Resource Manager

0.01

Human Resource Professionals

0.31

ICT Managers

0.04

Industrial, Mechanical and Production Engineers

0.02

Machine Operators

0.86

Machinery Operators and Drivers

0.86

Management and Organisation Analysts

0.13

Metal Fitters and Machinists

0.41

Mining Engineers

0.14

Motor Mechanics

0.59

Occupational and Environmental Health Professionals

0.17

Office Managers

0.73

Other Building and Engineering Technicians

0.03

Other Construction and Mining Labourers

0.88

Other Miscellaneous Labourers

0.85

Other Natural and Physical Science Professionals

0.02

Other Specialist Managers

0.03

Other Stationary Plant Operators

0.82

Personal Assistant

0.86

Production Managers

0.16

Purchasing and Supply Logistics Clerks

0.93

Science Technicians

0.77

Storepersons

0.64

Structural Steel and Welding Trades Workers

0.83

Structural Steel Construction Workers

0.83

Supply, Distribution and Procurement Managers

0.25

Surveyors and Spatial Scientists

0.38

Technicians and Trades Workers, not further defined

0.17

Train and Tram Drivers

0.77

Training and Development Professionals

0.01

Transport and Despatch Clerks

0.98

Truck Drivers

0.79


If you're into trends, you'll have noticed that there is a trend happening here. Notably jobs requiring higher skill levels, higher levels of education, or are more interpersonal appear to be 'safe'. The roles clearly require talents and abilities that machines and computers are not able to manage at this point in time. However, that doesn't mean technology is not going to have an impact on them! Far from it. Indeed, many of these roles will undergo significant changes courtesy of technology, requiring a certain degree of upskilling and development on the part of the incumbent.

​Another point of note is that in cases where similar skills are involved across occupations, it's the occupations with the higher levels of qualifying education that will be enhanced or redesigned. Those with lower levels of qualifying education are more likely to be automated. The report for instance notes that there are common areas of study between General Clerks and HR Managers (ie some of the clerical skills like typing and knowledge of certain types of software programs). However, HR Manager roles typically require a Bachelor degree or similar and are more likely to be retained and redesigned whilst General Clerical roles only require a Certificate 2 or 3 level qualification and are a prime candidate for automation.

Therefore, our young mining professional of the future would do well to consider the following table when determining what types of skills they'll require, and which sectors of the mining industry they wish to pursue a career in!

In future articles we're going to be exploring in more depth some of the ways in which the future of the working landscape is changing in relation to mining. We'll also take a look at how these changes will be effecting current employees in the industry, and what mining companies ought to be doing about ensuring they do have a workforce moving into the future. So stay tuned….

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Comments 1

Soputan Johny Djonie on Monday, 15 July 2019 11:29

I am really job working this company.

I am really job working this company.
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