Last updated 17 July, 2023

Finding the ‘why’ in mining: how coaching can improve attraction and retention

The mining industry in Australia is currently facing a critical worker shortage, with an estimated need for 24,000 new workers in the next five years. This shortage is exacerbated by challenges in attracting and retaining younger generations, particularly Generation Z (Gen Z), who are more environmentally conscious and concerned about the industry’s reputation. To address these issues, mining companies would benefit from finding effective strategies to attract, develop, and retain talent. One promising approach is coaching, which can help individuals in the mining sector find their purpose, enhance their skills, and contribute meaningfully to the industry. 

According to Mckinsey, 86% of mining executives reported that it was harder to recruit and retain the talent they needed compared to two years ago. This challenge is particularly prevalent in specialised fields such as mine planning, process engineering, data science, and automation. The shortage of talent in these areas is hindering mining companies from delivering on their production targets and strategic objectives.

Understanding the Skills Crisis in Mining

According to the Australian Resources and Energy Employer Association (AREEA), the mining industry is experiencing its worst skills crisis in a generation. The shortage of skilled workers is not only threatening the continuity of existing operations but also impeding the progress of new projects. To address this crisis, it may help mining companies focus on attracting and retaining talent, especially from younger generations who have concerns about the industry’s environmental impact.

Overcoming Perceptions and Misinformation

One significant barrier to attracting younger generations to the mining industry is the perception and misinformation spread through social media. Negative incidents, such as environmental damage and ethical issues, have tarnished the industry’s reputation. To combat this, mining companies may benefit from engaging in effective communication and rebranding efforts to highlight their commitment to environmental sustainability and social responsibility. Coaching can play a crucial role in helping industry leaders and employees articulate the industry’s positive contributions and address misconceptions.

Targeting Gen Z

To attract Gen Z to the mining industry, industry leaders and educators can highlight the importance of the sector in economic development and emphasise the opportunities for meaningful work. Programs that directly target Gen Z, showcasing the industry’s transition to net-zero emissions and its efforts to improve environmental and social performance, can be effective in attracting younger talent. Coaching can support these efforts by helping individuals find their purpose and align their values with the industry’s goals.

Gen Z’s Perception of the Mining Industry

McKinsey’s research reveals that 70% of individuals aged 15-30 stated that they would "definitely" or "probably" not work in the mining industry. This negative perception is a result of concerns about the industry’s environmental impact, ethical issues, and a perceived lack of career development opportunities. Furthermore, 31% of mining employees are likely to leave their jobs because they find their work to be meaningless. These statistics highlight the importance of addressing these challenges and finding effective strategies to attract and retain younger talent in the mining industry.

The Benefits of Soft Skill Development and Improved Leadership Capabilities

Soft skills play a crucial role in the success of mining professionals. Mastering skills such as problem-solving, critical questioning, presentation creation and delivery, leadership, and negotiation and conflict resolution is essential for effective collaboration and decision-making in the mining industry. McKinsey’s analysis reveals that 71% of mining leaders have found the shortage of talent to be a barrier to meeting production targets and strategic objectives. Developing soft skills through coaching can help address these challenges by enhancing employees’ capabilities in these areas.

Coaching as a Solution

Coaching provides a powerful solution to improve attraction and retention in the mining industry. By offering personalised support, coaching helps individuals in the mining sector discover their purpose, align their values with their work, and find meaning in their roles. This sense of purpose and fulfilment leads to increased job satisfaction, engagement, and loyalty. McKinsey’s research indicates that 43% of staff are likely to leave their current jobs due to a lack of career development. Coaching can address this issue by equipping employees with skills to accelerate professional growth, identify opportunities for advancement, and enhance their sense of value and motivation.

Coaching for Soft Skill Development

Coaching programs focused on soft skill development can have a transformative impact on mining professionals. Through coaching, individuals can enhance their problem-solving abilities, critical questioning techniques, presentation creation and delivery skills, leadership capabilities, and negotiation and conflict resolution strategies. By investing in coaching, mining companies can create a culture of continuous learning and development, fostering employee satisfaction, engagement, and retention.

Improved Leadership Capabilities

Mining engineers who demonstrate leadership qualities and take initiative are more likely to stand out and be valued by their managers. Coaching can play a pivotal role in developing leadership capabilities by encouraging individuals to make recommendations, take ownership of their work, and demonstrate safety leadership. Effective leadership not only creates a positive work environment but also inspires and motivates teams to achieve their goals.

Maximising Mining Talent through Coaching

The mining industry’s critical worker shortage and the challenges of attracting and retaining younger generations require innovative solutions. Coaching emerges as a powerful tool to improve attraction and retention in the industry. By focusing on soft skill development and enhancing leadership capabilities, coaching helps mining professionals find their purpose, feel valued, and contribute meaningfully to the industry. Moreover, coaching programs can serve as an effective attraction strategy, showcasing the industry’s commitment to employee growth and wellbeing. With coaching, the mining industry can bridge the skills gap, create a more engaged workforce, and build a sustainable future.

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