By 2022, approximately ten thousand of Australia’s go-to mining experts will leave the industry as the youngest members of the baby boomer generation retire. These employees, many who have spent thirty years working in the industry (often with one company), are regarded as specialists within their fields. Unless action is taken, their skills and experience will leave with them, presenting a significant risk to the operational performance of the industry.
Traditionally, the solution to this type of problem has been through knowledge transfer from one generation to the next however younger workers are indicating that they are seeking a more flexible working environment where technology and innovation are the key. With this in mind, navigating issues around knowledge transfer whilst embracing the current generation requires a different outlook.
Integrating innovative technology with expert human knowledge will enable the retention of the vital skills of near-retirement employees. This will allow the younger workforce access to the Baby Boomers’ experience via a new information platform where knowledge, gained through experience, becomes a product in itself. Connecting remote mine-sites and excellence centres using the “internet of things” will allow for near real-time data collection. The experienced workers in the excellence centres will then be able to understand the integrated mine and impart their advice to those younger workers on the ground, whilst intelligent technology retains and builds mine-specific knowledge. This will enable mining companies to handle, or even predict, future issues arising from changes in production, negating the knowledge gaps and experience loss associated with generational change.
Director of Strategy, Interlate