Attracting the millennial talent pool is crucial for mining companies to retain their social licence to operate, according to BDO’s global head of natural resources Sherif Andrawes.
He predicted that the importance of a social licence would soon be comparable to that of a mining licence, without which companies would find it impossible to operate.
Mining companies need to attract in-demand millennial talent pool given Australia’s ageing population and workforce.
New data from BDO shows that 39 per cent of the industry’s workforce is made up of millennials, but Andrawes said more would be needed as baby boomers retired and Generation X moved into leadership positions.
The mining sector needs to change its industry narrative to secure millennials, members of a generation that the Society for Human Resource Management showed to be wanting to benefit a cause with their skills.
“Millennials want to save the planet, and mining doesn’t currently appear on their career radars,” Andrawes said.
“It’s seen as a ‘sunset’ industry dominated by middle-aged managers, lacking in entrepreneurial endeavour.”
Mining’s role in supplying the raw material for the manufacture of electric vehicles, wind turbines and solar panels is not often directly relatable to many, neither its role in the making of smartphones, consumer technology and food production.
“It can be hard for people to identify with mining companies because what they do, and what they produce, are distant from what the community sees,” Andrawes said.
“People see phones, cars, TVs but they link back to mining is often not made. Mining companies need to change the way they communicate with the community to help people make these connections.”
Andrawes added that millennials were also not aware of the sector’s urgent need for digital skillsets.
This requires industry repositioning so it can ultimately build a sustainable social licence among stakeholders.
Andrawes predicted that for many companies this would come with a period of lower profitability before they transition to sustainable processes.
“Local communities are not going to wait for the transition to be cost effective, so the necessary disruption may mean a different profit horizon for transitioning mining companies,” he said.
“But the cost of not acting is far greater. Not only can an unstable social licence can be revoked at any time for a range of local and global stakeholders, but companies will miss out on the talent they need to digitise, automate and move into the next era of mining.”