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Diversity a key to mining's next innovation leap

The mining industry’s ongoing ability to recruit and retain top professionals in their fields will depend increasingly on how well it manages greater workforce diversity, a survey by Australia’s peak mining professional body has emphasised.
Diversity a key to mining's next innovation leap Diversity a key to mining's next innovation leap Diversity a key to mining's next innovation leap Diversity a key to mining's next innovation leap Diversity a key to mining's next innovation leap

How mining handles workplace diversity could determine its future successes

Lou Caruana

Innovation, automation and technological development were also of increasing importance to respondents in the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy's 2018 Professional Workforce Survey, reflecting professional interest in the fast change the sector is undergoing, according to AusIMM CEO Stephen Durkin.

"Increasing student confidence in the sector, will encourage more young people to enter science, technology, engineering and mathematics-related courses with the assurance of a long, stable career in a strong industry," Durkin said.

"This is significant given the importance of attracting and retaining a skilled workforce to a changing industry.

"The positive uptick we've seen in our sector translates to greater employment, greater prospects, and the opportunity for sustainable growth into the future."

AusIMM's survey asked how diverse participants thought their workplaces were based on race, ethnicity, heritage, gender, age, religion, disability or sexual orientation. It drew 1,500 respondents.

Results found most professionals saw their workplaces to be diverse, with 69% of male and 64% of female participants indicating their workplaces met or exceeded expectations.

However, more than half the female survey participants expressed the view the industry was not diverse, compared to 32% cent of male participants.

Durkin said industry needed to be on the front foot with promoting diversity and inclusion if it wanted to achieve real growth.

"A diverse and inclusive sector will attract and retain the necessary talent for a modern, sustainable mining industry, while encouraging innovative thinking from a broad pool of professionals," he said.

"This is why AusIMM has established our Council for Diversity and Inclusion, to assess and commit to actions that will improve the sector while also encouraging industry to take the lead."

The resources sector is getting stronger, with an unemployment rate of just 2.6%, which is less than half the national average and in stark contrast to 14.1% unemployment in the sector recorded by AusIMM in 2016.

"The sector is changing, and we need to ensure that the skills of the future workforce are cultivated, to fully embrace innovation and automation and all the opportunities it offers for growth in the sector," Durkin said.