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Commentary

Ontario’s Federated School of Mines a global leader

December 1, 2009
by Dick DeStefano
In: Commentary, Dick DeStefano with 0 Comments

Northern Ontario can probably claim title to the largest number of mining-related training and post-secondary programs in the world.

This is due to the creation of a group of seven academic institutions that have pooled their resources to expand learning opportunities for the mining industry.  This consortium is another vital asset to the mining supply and service sector and to the mining industry.  There are now more than 130 programs and specialized training courses being offered by these seven institutions, including programs as diverse as business administration, mining engineering, skilled trades for electricians, millwrights and welders, and a wide variety of technician and technologist programs.

Improved access

The goal of the of the Federated School of Mines is to provide improved access to relevant mining industry education and training that responds to industry’s evolving needs and provides improved access to rewarding careers in Canada’s modern minerals and metals industry. The school is working with all communities of interest,
including employers, government, organized labour, the Aboriginal community and others to provide the right people with the right skills at the right time.

The school examines the availability and ease of access to mining education and training. The intent is for mining and mining-related education and training to become more accessible to learners in both English and French, using a variety of delivery methods, thereby enhancing access in more remote areas and allowing for each partner’s unique areas of expertise to be applied effectively and efficiently. Diversified delivery methods coupled with innovative program and course offerings will increase the number of entrance points to careers in mining and promote lifelong learning and ongoing career and personal development for those already in the sector.

The consortium consists of College Boreal, Cambrian College, Canadore College, Northern College (including the Haileybury School of Mines), Sault College, Confederation College, Laurentian University and Contact North.  The seven educational institutions serve more than 25,000 full-time students and more than 50,000 part-time students.  There are also more than 10,000 course registrations per year utilizing Contact North e-learning.

SAMSSA members are pleased with this innovative approach.  The working relationship between companies and the academic consortium encourages consultation.  Paul Hebert, executive director of the school and former executive director of the Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MIHR), says, “Our mining technician and technology programs are applauded by the industry because they are responsive to the changing needs of the industry.  This constant interaction between industry and academic institutions is a plus, not only for the graduates, but also for industry.”

According to an August 2009 study by MIHR, “in some cases, experienced workers who were laid off in 2009 will be hired back, but some may have left the industry to work elsewhere. The mining sector, governments and relevant associations need to be aware of these issues and must take steps now to ensure that there will be a pool of skilled workers ready to assume jobs when the upswing comes.”

Workforce projections

Under the optimistic scenario, the mining industry in Ontario is projected to shed some 2,781 jobs in 2008 and 2009, coinciding with the decline in commodity prices. However, the number of jobs in the industry will recover quickly. By the end of 2013, all of these job losses will be recouped. In fact, by the end of 2018, some 3,723 jobs will be added by industry. These seven institutions are open and ready to educate and train these workers.

Laurentian University’s new president, Dominic Giroux, has been touting a new International School of Mining for the future that would focus on multiple partnerships and multilingual seminars, workshops and executive programs.

SAMSSA agrees with Hebert when he says that this consortium of institutions is unique to Canada and the world, and represents a competitive advantage to our mining and mining supply and services sector.

www.samssa.ca

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About Dick DeStefano

Dick DeStefano is Executive Director of SAMSSA [email protected]

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