• Lindi Engelbrecht

The future of Jobs in Mining : Pivot Today. Succeed Tomorrow


The future for mining Jobs - The up-killing Revolution

Reimagine your career! Your career is about what you want to be and who you want to be. It’s about bringing your skills, your curiosity and your best true self to your work.


A recent World Economic Forum article, which was part of the The Jobs Reset Summit, stated the following :

  • Advances in technology and economic uncertainty, exacerbated by COVID-19, are causing disruption to the jobs market.

  • The mining industry has a critical role to play in supporting mining communities to develop the skills needed to fully participate in the economy of the future.

  • Partnership and collaboration is essential to navigate these challenges and help the sector move forward.

Disruptions in the jobs market, driven by new technology and changes in economic outlook, have been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The development of employees is critical for the sustainability of mining. Semi-skilled work will remain important for as long as deep level mining continues using the current drilling, blasting and cleaning methods.


However, the trend is towards more highly-skilled work. It's estimated that by 2025, 85 million jobs may be displaced, but 97 million new roles may emerge, driven by these significant economic and technological shifts. It’s important to note that modernisation is not simply mechanisation or automation, it’s a process of transitioning and transforming the mining industry of yesteryear. Modernisation could save around 200 000 jobs by 2030, affecting two million dependants.


The mining industry recognizes that while there are certainly challenges associated with the adoption of new technologies there are also benefits: improved productivity, safety performance and environmental management. It will therefore be critical to invest in the skills needed for these benefits to be realised, without disadvantaging those that currently lack the “skills of the future”.


Seven key insights emerged:

1. Mining and Metals companies are primarily focussing on the adoption of 3 key technologies in the next four years: non-humanoid robotics; internet of things (IoT) and connected devices; big data analytics.


2. At the same time, 73% of companies identified skills gaps in the local labour market as the biggest barrier to the adoption of such new technology.


3. Companies identified that an average of 48% of existing employees would require reskilling/upskilling in the next four years to meet the evolving skills required for the tasks they would have to perform.


4. In the next four years the average employee’s skillset will change by 40% and most companies expected existing employees to pick up skills on the job and had this as their primary strategy to address the shifting skills demand.


5. Maybe as a result, internal learning and development was thought by companies to be where the most (37%) of their future retraining would occur (as opposed to being sourced from external training programmes, for example).


6. Ultimately, the average share of mining and metals workers at risk of displacement was estimated at 20% (compared with 14.2% in oil and gas, and 11% in agriculture, food and beverage, for example).


7. Despite differences in skills and work profiles, the types of emerging skills and jobs, the types of redundant jobs and the focus of current reskilling and upskilling programmes were similar across geographies.




The future is digital

What the above tells us is that digital technologies, including automation and artificial intelligence, are going to revolutionise the way we do business. Some in the industry are already calling them smart mines.

Smart mines are a topic we’re paying close attention to because the skills required to operate smart mines are the skills we need to be encouraging the next generation of miners to acquire now. They’re also the skills and abilities mining companies should consider prioritise onboarding. They’re skills like robotics and data analysis.


Varied skills will always be required

Despite the high-tech future that’s just around the corner, there will still be a need for people to physically be onsite — after all, even remote-controlled trucks require people to maintain them, and site-based systems will always need monitoring.

And as long as there are employees at mine sites, the industry will always need support personnel in place to ensure the site and mine village run efficiently — that meals are cooked, rooms and offices are cleaned, visitors are welcomed and store stock is maintained.


So, there will always be a range of jobs for a range of skill sets in South Africa’s & Africa's mining industry. The good news is these jobs are getting safer all the time.

For employees, the secret to getting a good job will be skilling yourself adequately to make yourself as attractive to an employer as possible.

For mining industry employers, the secret will be not just ensuring you have the skills you already know you need, but ensuring you retain those skills on staff, while also planning for the skills you’re going to need for the future.


Scarce skills identified by the Mining Qualifications Authority

If Science, maths and technical stuff interests you, whether it’s for your own career development – understanding what the scarce skills are in the job market is an advantage. Knowledge of scarce skills helps you to identify viable and feasible career paths and business development opportunities.


How to use Scarce Skills information

  • Study in a field where there are many scarce skills and ensure that you possess plenty of these skills to strengthen your chances of employment

  • If you are looking for a new job or career opportunity, see if you can meet any of the scarce skills in the sector you’re interested in.

  • If you find yourself in a position to apply for any of these jobs, be sure to list other scarce skills you may have in your cover letter.

  • If you’re a training organisation working within the mining sector, check that you are able to meet the development needs of scarce skill areas. Align your learning programs with scarce skill needs.

  • Scarce skills offer both employment and business expansion opportunities.


Professor Fred Cawood the Ex-Director of the Wits Mining Institute, wrote an article published on BizCommunity, and it states :


The next shift is a global mining ‘pull’ for relevant technology and skills, away from “What or who is in the market?” to “What do we need and who can we partner with to get it?” The technology and 4IR trend is unstoppable and automation of the entire mining value chain is fast becoming the major driver of value. With this come risks like cyberattacks, information breaches and theft of data and intellectual property. In addition, the adoption of more technology will create a new future of mining with a more human-centred future of work.


We are expecting a future in which artificial intelligence and human skill-sets will determine how we mine, while climate change issues will determine where and when we mine. Further, carbon content and the ability to control its release into the atmosphere will influence what we mine.


DIGGER, together with the mining and metals industry is working together to define the skills it needs and ensure that it has access to talent with the necessary skills across its diverse regions of operation, supported by insights around key automation technologies and trends.! #gettingpeopletowork.


It has been widely said that “the best way to predict the future is to create it”. To harness this latest industrial revolution for positive transformation, we would also add “together”.


The importance for people to be always learning throughout their career, the importance of collaborating, of working as parts of teams, developing those higher order cognitive skills, where you can interpret, analyse, make connections between seemingly different pieces of information, and persuade others of your argument, that you can provide good service and insight, that you can can emphasise, and care, and be concerning of others. These are skills that are going to be in greater demand than ever.


Find opportunities that fit what you are looking for on the DiggerApp. Link to create a FREE account. When you create a profile on DiggerApp.io, be sure to add these skillsets in your bio to stand out from your peers !


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