Dec 10, 2018 6:14:00 AM
Canadian mining corporations are active in over 100 jurisdictions around the world, including South...
Born between 1980 and the mid-90s, there are two billion millennials in the world today—or 27% of the world population, according to Pew Research Center. Millennials wield significant influence at the ballot box, and in the boardroom, giving them power to change public policies, corporate values, and business priorities. Millennials are tech savvy, and vital to the economy, not just as consumers but as employees and contractors, future entrepreneurs, and senior leaders.
They also care strongly about environmental issues, want to have a positive impact on society, and demand a strong social conscience from their employer. These characteristics present both challenges and important opportunities for mining companies.
From morning to night, millennials are immersed in digital technology in their personal lives. They expect the same standards and options at their workplace, which means mining companies will have to reimagine how they operate.
“Our aging workers know the mines and our young guys know digital. When we have been able to have a cohesive cross-generational team, it has been stellar,” said Duncan Wanbald, CEO of Base Metals at AngloAmerican.
Based on research by Microsoft, 93% of millennials consider availability of modern technology to be one of the most critical elements of a workplace. Research also indicates that 42% would leave if technology was not up to date. In an EY study, opportunities to use the latest technology was one of the top three driving forces for millennials when choosing a job.
While this research applies primarily to more traditional office settings, millennials are unlikely to wave this expectation for mining companies—who still have work to do in integrating technology if they want to attract digital savvy workers. The World Economic Forum estimates that digital transformation could save almost 1,000 lives and avoid more than 44,000 injuries by 2025. However, global adoption rates of important digital innovations in the mining industry such as smart sensors, connected worker technologies, and integrated IT ecosystems and platforms, are low in the mining sector.
Some mining companies are ahead of the curve, recognizing the need to digitize mining operations to attract and retain the next generation of workers. They are adopting digital technology across all aspects to make operations more efficient and profitable, and workplaces safer.
For example, client corporations hire dozens of contractors who bring in hundreds of workers to a project site to perform countless, often dangerous tasks. Advanced contractor management systems are streamlining the qualification process, centralizing information in a digital, web-based platform, and helping companies quickly assess and hire only the most qualified contractors.
“I care about myself and the planet. I strive to be clean and green,” was one of eight attitudes and behaviours that defines millennials, according to research by the Boston Consulting Group. This may explain why, according to a 2016 McKinsey study, 14% of millennials surveyed would not pursue a career in the oil and gas industry because of its negative image. However, mining companies recognize and want to go green.
As more millennials continue to enter the workforce and assume positions of greater responsibility, the culture will shift. Millennials are:
“Companies not taking care of employee and contractor welfare will struggle to attract talent,” said one safety director at a major mining operation who participated in Zero Harm.
Millennials are committed and passionate about occupational health and safety, community impact, and environmental sustainability. Leading mining companies have already begun to tackle many of these issues.
Mining companies at the forefront of adopting digital technologies will be best positioned to attract the next generation of mining professionals. These innovations can increase returns, save lives, and empower workers across all aspects of operations—from machine operators to data scientists. The industry will be transformed. Are you ready?