The state of mining education; What does the future hold for the next generation
Mining Engineering, 2014, Vol. 66, No. 10, pp. 21-21
Despite the recent pullback in metal and mineral prices, and the associated market adjustments, the mining industry is still facing a serious issue with the declining availability of graduate expertise. This is due to a combination of an aging workforce, retirements and retrenchments, coupled with a lack of suitably qualified graduates entering the workforce. The issue has certainly improved since 2004 when the industry picked up the rates of hiring graduate engineers and mining/mineral school enrollments picked up in response. This hiring effort has helped to cover the “gap” years from about 1985-2000, when industry demand for graduates was particularly poor. However, the recent market pullback is likely to set back this progress, as recruitment and hiring wavers as a result of cost cutting measures and economic uncertainty.
A key issue for the mining industry is how to ensure the survival and growth of relevant “core” degree programs. Such programs include mining, metallurgical, mineral processing and geological engineering. The mining industry needs a healthy, high-level education program to ensure an adequate supply of appropriately qualified graduates for the mining industry. Two-thirds of the professionals entering the minerals industry who graduated within the past 40 years graduated prior to 1985. Since 1985, we have been living off the legacy of graduation classes from the mid-1970s and early 1980s. It is estimated that we have been producing graduates at approximately 40 to 50 percent of the sustaining rate since about 1985. Further growth in the domestic industry would increase graduate requirements significantly, and the export of U.S.-graduates to other parts of the world (as is currently occurring) also impacts the total graduate requirements.
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