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Forecast identifying mining sector jobs over next decade

Report to help shape training, retraining workers

They may not have a crystal ball, but the Far Northeast Training Board is working to create a 10-year forecast for the mining sector.

Far Northeast Training Board executive director Julie Joncas said the goal is to better understand the needs in the industry. That will help gear workforce training and retraining for the jobs that will be available in the next 10 years.

Geographically, the report will cover Timmins, the Highway 11 corridor from Hearst to Latchford, from Kirkland Lake to the Québec border, Chapleau, Hornepayne and communities along the James Bay coast.

To be competitive, she said the sector has to have access to a qualified workforce.

According to Joncas, youth out-migration and the last wave of baby boomers reaching retirement are having a “major impact” on companies getting the workers that they need.

“We’ve got to be careful how we talk about (youth out-migration); sometimes it is important and necessary for our youth to leave the region only to come back with some new skills that they can contribute to our communities. But it is having an impact on the ability of our local industries to finding workers,” she said.  

Clearlogic Consulting Professionals is collecting the data for the forecast.

Managing director Ron Leduc said the key categories to get the details for the report are: active mine sites, advanced exploration sites, and mining suppliers.

So far, about 80 per cent of the active mine sites are participating, and there is around 30 per cent participation from the exploration sites.

“Once we get the message across of what we’re trying to do the mines, the suppliers, the advanced exploration sites, they immediately see the value,” he said.

Clearlogic expects to be able to bring raw information back to a working group in January. At that point, Leduc explained the group will identify occupations of interest and build profiles that include skill sets, experience level, and technological requirements for jobs.

The final report is expected to be finished in February.

The information being collected is a valuable tool for post-secondary institutes.

Fred Gibbons, president of Northern College and board chair of the Timmins Economic Development Corporation, said the timing of the study is appropriate.

“It’s very relevant,” Gibbons said. “We know we live in a mining jurisdiction with more than 100 years of experience and history, and some of our older mines are coming near end-of-life production.”

At those sites, he said there are workers who aren’t at retirement age and are going to be concerned about where to find their next job.

“We also know we have some younger mines that have the opposite challenge – they’re looking for that skilled workforce. But our pool at this point is finite,” Gibbons said.

Mining is ever-evolving, he said, and the skill sets that are being used today may be different than those needed at emerging sites.

“We need, as education institutions, to be aware of that changing workforce demand of mines. We also have to be responsible to retraining needs,” he said.

As a service and supply company, The Bucket Shop market development manager Jamie Pouw said they feel the same effects as the mines.

“We agree it’s a critical time; it’s a critical opportunity. We want to take part in some the decision-making that goes along with this and help the training efforts the best we can," said Pouw. "We’re feeling it currently. We’re desperate for good, qualified workers."