New kids in the quarry

AggMan Staff | Published on March 7, 2013

Kids in the KabIt’s hard to believe, with the current lack of demand for aggregates, that the day will come when there will be a shortage of knowledgeable and experienced aggregate industry employees. But that was a real concern when I first started working on Aggregates Manager magazine…and it’s sure to become a concern again when the economy picks back up.

When I visited TXI’s Mill Creek Quarry in Oklahoma in 2004, I met one of the operation’s “new kids in the quarry.” The young man in the picture was barely out of high school, but was one of the quarry’s most promising young recruits. He was pretty handy in the wheel loader and was eager and anxious to learn the industry. Harold “Papa” Watson, the plant manager at that time, saw great potential in the young man and was training and grooming him for the future.

There will come a day, probably in the not-too-distant future, when there will be a shortage of experienced aggregate workers. The overwhelming majority of aggregate people are now middle aged or older. When the economy tanked causing cutbacks in aggregate industry employees, young workers were the first to go, so they haven’t had a place to gain the necessary experience. It’s hard to determine where the young, experienced personnel will come from when its time to fill the shoes of those who will be retiring in a few years.

Many of the classified ads for aggregate workers today are seeking those with degrees in one field or another, such as engineering. That’s all well and good, but what about those like the young man above? Those who can’t afford college or technical school, but are eager and willing to learn the job? Do they deserve a chance to fill one of those positions? Did all of your best workers come to your company with degrees, or did they learn through on-the-job training?

It’s time to start thinking about this. Where does your company’s workforce stand? Are you grooming any young workers for the future? If not now…when?

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