Wanted: Human Capital for Mining

Article excerpt

Human capital development has always been viewed as the most important component in any nation striving for effective economic growth. With the mining industry enjoying a resurgence, it is clear that demand for a highly skilled workforce and experts has increased significantly, and quality assurance is required of the mining industry's human capital to carry out the tasks in a highly competitive and globalized environment. The mining industry must surge forward quickly via enhancing the cutting edge skills of the industry's workforce in this new era of a knowledge-based economy. Knowledge and experience provide the competitive edge to successfully face the challenges of globalization and to sustain the momentum of growth.

At present, the ready availability of expert mining engineers and a skilled workforce worldwide had drastically declined over the years due to the decline of commodity prices since the late 1980's. This is what has happened in the Philippines, when enrollment in courses on mining engineering and related sciences in universities and technical institutes in the country had declined, resulting in some schools closing down the courses or trying to keep afloat through subsidies.

The revitalization of the mining industry, in view of the extensive industrialization programs carried out worldwide, complemented by increasing demand for metals and minerals, requires an increase in the needed expertise. In particular, experts in the field of mining engineering and the training of a skilled workforce is urgently needed for the sustained growth of today's mining sector. Thus, effective human capital development in the mining industry is crucial to capitalize on our country's endowment of valuable mineral resources for furthering national development.

The stumbling block for the renewed growth of the mining industry which I see as a problem for the Philippines currently is that there is a general shortage of technical and skilled mining professionals and management manpower for an effective mineral industry. The present practicing professional mining engineers are abroad or either retired or nearing retirement, if not, indeed mostly six feet under. The demand for these highly skilled personnel will intensify as globalization and competition with other industrial sectors catch on. Thus, the effective progress and expansion of the mining industry requires the formulation of a comprehensive agenda to build up this critical pool of mining expertise and a supporting workforce. …