Skilled labor shortages and technology

| Published on March 14, 2013

technologyUntil the last several years, a shortage among skilled workers had always been a top-of-mind concern for aggregate producers. And, as demand edges back up, these problems are likely to grow as well.

From an international perspective, skilled labor shortage is already the primary concern among respondents to a recent BDO survey of 130 international mining executives. Survey results indicate that 79 percent believe the lack of a skilled workforce will have a negative impact on their business this year. To cope, 50 percent of executives surveyed say they are substituting technology for labor and expect it to have a positive affect.

“We are in the middle of a transition in the mining industry from a blue collar to a white collar workforce,” said Charles Dewhurst, Global National Resources Leader, in a press release on the survey results. “Technology, and the individuals who are skilled in developing and utilizing these tools, is now more important than ever as demands for returns and increased productivity are forcing the industry to innovate.”

Technology has certainly played an increasing role in the aggregate industry. From controls on plant components to whole-site automation, many operations are more advanced than ever. Remote-controlled haul trucks are a near-term possibility.

But, what about equipment operators, maintenance workers, and welders? As the workforce continues to age, young workers will be needed in these roles.

This leads me to two questions:

  1. How are you identifying and retaining young workers?
  2. How are you using automation to reduce the need for skilled labor?

Shoot me an email and let me know. You might just be featured in an upcoming issue of Aggregates Manager.

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