Digitization, digital transformation, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) – this massive shift toward technology use sometimes feels like swimming in a sea of buzzwords. No matter what you call it, there’s no denying the implications digitization has on industrial sectors, and the mining industry is no exception.
There is a broad consensus across the industry that digital technologies are key to better performing mines – and some of the most successful mining companies are already taking on big, innovative projects.
But with this great industry outlook driven by digital transformation comes many challenges along the way, namely finding, training and attracting the workforce to support such a rapid shift.
Roles are shifting and what was once a desirable skillset in the mining sector may no longer be as valuable to an organization driven by smart machines and technology. Mining companies must shift their focus to better understand the needs of the organization, be willing to train seasoned workers to better support new technology, and also position themselves to attract new talent to fill in the gaps.
Digital Era Role Shifts
We see a few key skill sets emerging:
Quantitative Skills: A major trend across all mining roles is a shift toward quantitative and evidence-based work. An aptitude for working with numbers and data has become increasingly essential as the machines we work with become smarter, outputting information that needs to be contextualized. In addition to the quantitative shift, technology literacy is equally as important. Desktop software, process automation, virtual reality and tech-assisted programs are helping organizations do work faster. Workers need to be ready to work with these tools to get the job done.
Collaboration Capabilities: Cooperation across the organization has never been more important than in this digital era. Mobile, virtual and remote work is offering safe, balanced and cost-effective options for many roles. Teams are becoming global entities that communicate and collaborate cross-functionally, making it increasingly important to provide visibility for all parties.
Socially-focused: License to operate continues to be a focus for mining companies, and modern day communities, consumers and stakeholders want more. The industry has the opportunity to advance initiatives like sustainability and community inclusion to negate legacy views of mining. Leaders and job designers benefit from positioning each role as part of a broader and better mission, as well as working to address the interests of broader groups of stakeholders.
An Exciting Future
While most digital-era roles tend to share common traits, there are specific skill sets emerging that are especially beneficial for mining. Reimagining jobs and the work being done isn’t something new and it has long been on the minds of leaders in the industry. This is not the first wave of digital transformation, and it will not be the last as the rate of adoption differs across the board. But if anything, this transformation provides a great opportunity for current and future mining workers. They gain the opportunity to expand their skill sets, grow their impact within the organization, and drive results for better business practices.