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When a sector has achieved global leadership status, the demand for skills can stretch beyond the output of mainstream education channels.
This is very much the case in the mining sector, where the appetite for knowledge about how the industry and system works is driving a new approach to MBA studies.
According to Jean Vavrek, executive director for CIM (Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum) in Montreal, skill sets are changing more and more in the line of “softer issues” related to social acceptance and license.
“The industry is dealing with much more complex environmental issues, more regulations, deeper ore bodies, remote exploration … the dynamics and the management challenges are only getting bigger,” he says. “So is the potential for career development.”
Canada needs to accelerate the development of future leadership, Mr. Vavrek adds. “The potential on the management side is big, from project management and capital expenditures to exploration and development. What managers are facing today in this sector dwarfs most other industries.”
Dave Constable, former vice-president of FNX Mining Co. in Toronto predicts the shortage of skilled mining specialists to reach between 50,000 to 100,000 in the next five years.
“There’s a huge pipeline of projects that may be delayed. But they will take place,” he says.
The limiting factor is not as much about capital as it is about your ability to put together fully integrated teams that can tackle the environment, social and regulatory issues. This industry is not just about tonnage and production any more.”
This September, York University’s Schulich School of Business did its part to help the mining industry nurture the talent it needs with the development of a new MBA specialization in Global Mining Management. Demand has been so high there is already a lengthy waiting list, program director Richard Ross says.
Having been a former chairman and CEO of Inmet Mining, Mr. Ross’ commitment to program development is rooted in a deep understanding of sector needs.
“At a certain point in time when we were looking for MBA students, we couldn’t find any with a specific knowledge of the mining sector,” he says. “If we hired someone and trained them, they would leave in less than two years. It was evident the industry needed a program like this.”
Over the past 10 to 15 years, mining engineers and geologists achieved senior executive roles by learning leadership skills on the job, Mr. Ross adds.
For the rest of this article, please go to the National Post website: http://business.financialpost.com/2012/09/25/mining-drives-new-mba-approach/