On March 27, the Mining: Your Business fair took place in Sudbury. An estimated 400 people showed up for the event, which was funded by Employment Ontario.
Jesse Legault, a 21-year-old Cambrian College industrial mechanic student, was one of at least 20 people waiting in line to hand his resume to human resources workers from Xstrata Nickel.
A similarly long line had formed at the other end of the room at the Vale Inco booth. Dozens of other young men and women were also buzzing around booths for mining supply and service sector businesses, and picking up pens and business cards.
“It gives you a chance to get your resume in and to see everyone’s face,” said Legault. “I don’t think I’ll get a job in my field for the summer, but I think when I finish my program I have a pretty good chance of getting on with one of the large mining companies.”
Besides Vale Inco and Xstrata Nickel, the fair attracted Sudbury mining supply and service companies, educational institutions and employment agencies.
“People always think of mining as being the big companies – Vale Inco or Xstrata Nickel. But the reality is there is an economic cluster in Sudbury of the mining supply and service sector,” said Sharon Murdock, executive director of the Sudbury & Manitoulin Workforce Partnerships Board.
“There are shortages all over the place. Mining companies are pulling a lot of the experienced personnel out of the supply and service sector.”
Murdock, one of the organizers of the fair, invited high school, college and university students, as well as unemployed or underemployed people taking advantage of employment incentive programs.
Companies with booths were asked to provide information on current job vacancies within their organizations. Those manning the booths were also asked to post a piece of paper outlining their own career paths.
“It shows that you might have put yourself through college or university by flipping hamburgers, but that’s just how you started,” Murdock said.
“But then you ended up doing X, and now you’re doing Y, and you never thought you’d end up doing that when you were in high school. It shows people that even though you’re in a job now where you’re not challenged, maybe you could try something else.”
Most mining companies require a two-year technical college program plus six months of work experience before they will hire new employees, said Murdock. Some mining supply and service sector companies will hire those who have only earned a high school diploma, she said.
Andre Ducharme, inside/customer sales representative at Equipment World, was supervising a booth for his company. Equipment World is a material handling, storage and packaging systems company headquartered in Thunder Bay with branch offices in Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie.
Mechanics and other skilled tradespeople are sorely needed by the company, said Ducharme.
“It’s very competitive. The big companies are able to recruit a lot more quickly than we can,” he said.
On April 25-26, the MineSET Technologies and Career Opportunities Forum took place in Sudbury.
About 25 exhibitors from mining, mining supply and service, and recruitment companies, as well as post-secondary institutions had booths at the event.
A steady stream of students and other people interested in entering the mining industry checked out the booths and several pieces of mining equipment on display.
“We wanted to do a mining show because Sudbury is the mining Mecca of the world right now. The boom is here,” said Mike Buckingham, executive director of SHOWPRO, the Sudbury-based company that organized the event.
Kelly Young, a first year mining engineering student at Cambrian College, was at the employment fair along with some of her classmates.
The students were required to go to the fair and get information from 10 displays as part of a week-long field camp.
“Our teachers thought it would be a good idea to come and network and pick up business cards,” said Young, who already has a summer job at Vale Inco. “I’m definitely learning a lot about what’s available.”
Seppo Haapamaki, chief mine engineer with Mines Technical Services at Vale Inco, said the company set up a booth at the fair because 500 more workers are needed at the company’s Sudbury operations.