Why collaboration will be key to creating the workforce of the future

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Nicky Black, Director, Social and Economic Development, International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM)


  • The COVID-19 pandemic has expedited the technological changes already disrupting the workforce and the mining and metals sector;
  • The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2020 suggests skills gaps in the sector will be a significant barrier to the adoption of new technologies, in particular automation;
  • Investing in skills and collaboration within the industry to respond to the Fourth Industrial Revolution and prepare for the future of work is urgently needed.

Before COVID-19, new technology was already disrupting the labour market but the pandemic has expedited these developments, in particular remote working and a greater reliance on technology.

The mining and metals sector has not been exempt from these changes. Whilst the potential benefits of technology to the sector – improved productivity, safety and environmental management – are considerable, so are the impact of these new ways of working on the sector’s workforce and the communities in which it operates. It is clear that significant investment in skills will be necessary to navigate these disruptions and adapt to the changing nature of work.

It is challenging to picture the Fourth Industrial Revolution. World Economic Forum Founder and Executive Chairman, Klaus Schwab, characterizes it as a range of new technologies that fuse the physical, digital and biological worlds, affecting all disciplines, economies and industries. For some time now, the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) has been collaborating with the Forum and other stakeholders to better understand what the Fourth Industrial Revolution looks like for mining and what interventions may be necessary to support workers’ and communities’ transition into the economy of the future.

This collaboration has occurred via a number of mediums, including the Forum’s Mining and Metals Future of Work Taskforce – a community of industry actors exploring how best to incorporate technology while promoting diversity, equality, morality and safety – to which ICMM contributes.

Our collective understanding was boosted by the Forum’s recent Future of Jobs 2020 report which draws on survey results of companies around the world, across multiple sectors, including several from the mining and metals industry. It estimates that automation could displace as many as 85 million jobs worldwide in the next five years, while approximately 97 million new roles are likely to emerge. One in two workers will need reskilling and even those that remain in their current jobs will need to update 40% of their skills to adapt to the future of work.

The report revealed that the mining and metals sector saw skills gaps as a significant barrier to the adoption of new technologies, reflecting potential challenges in both realizing the benefits of automation (improved productivity, safety and environmental management) and in transitioning its workforce to a more automated industry. Of course, this challenge does not exist exclusively at the operational level. The effect undoubtedly extends to local communities whose members are employed by mining operations or supply chains and who often rely on the income and economic activity generated by the industry.

Three crucial takeaways from the report for our sector include:

  • We need to invest in skills in the mining sector and mining’s value chain, for the future of work more broadly and to support local communities to participate fully in the future economy;
  • We need to act now and the window of opportunity for action is closing; transitional reskilling and skills-building will take time;
  • We need to collaborate at the industry level, with other industries and through multi-stakeholder partnerships, such as with the Forum and our other partners. Collaboration will be crucial to both defining the future of work and how we respond to it.

The Future of Jobs report amplifies the importance of ICMM’s Skills for our Common Future Initiative. In the past two years, the collaborative programme has evolved to help the industry understand and meet the employment and economic transitions likely to come from anticipated disruptions, such as those brought by technology and new ways of working. The initiative aims to hasten national and regional efforts to build new skills and bolster the existing ones that are necessary to drive inclusive economic participation and diversification beyond mining.

Throughout the programme, ICMM hopes to partner with government, civil society and other industries – as well continuing to collaborate with the Forum and other organizations – to share effective approaches for identifying the skills that will be needed in the future, delivering those skills and stimulating the delivery of large-scale skills training in mining communities.

At ICMM, we recognize that the sector needs to think much more broadly and not just about its own workforce. Our members are focused on keeping communities firmly at the centre of their efforts, equipping them with skills to participate in economic opportunities that emerge across mining and other sectors and to navigate through disruption and prosper into the future.

Whilst the pandemic has sped up many developments across the sector, it has also shown the deep connection mining companies have with their host communities and the power of collaborative action. ICMM has published the Building Forward Better Framework that provides tools and resources to help companies through the initial stages of the pandemic and to lay the pathway for building forward to a more resilient future post-COVID-19.

The power of collaboration will again be crucial as we work together to address the challenges we face in transitioning the workforce of today to the work of tomorrow safely, inclusively and fairly.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Kellen Europe Hosts EuroConference 2016

Coronavirus response and recovery: EU support for regions to work together in innovative pilot projects

The EU pretends not knowing what happens in the Western Balkans

Microsoft says the internet is getting a little nicer

Iraq: UN mission urges ‘maximum restraint’ following deadly attack on foreign troops

Data protection: Commission decides to refer Greece and Spain to the Court for not transposing EU law

Syria’s groundbreaking constitutional talks: ‘a clear success of mediation’ says Guterres in Turkey

Our children’s career aspirations have nothing in common with the jobs of the future

African Peace Facility: African Union Peace & Security Operations boosted by an additional €800 million from the European Union

We need better alignment between climate and trade. Here’s a roadmap

Antimicrobial resistance: how can an intersectoral approach between society and healthcare professionals be developed and applied?

COVID vaccination campaign. What are the challenges?

This project is decarbonizing the UK area with the highest industrial CO2 emissions

Precision medicine should be accessible to all

Apparently the EU Digital Single Market passes necessarily from China’s Digital Silk Road

As the year closes out, UN political chief talks the art of diplomacy – and crises to watch in 2019.

To flourish in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we need to rethink these 3 things

The US pipeline attack shows the energy sector must act now on cybersecurity. Here are 6 ways how

The current devaluation of primary health care professionals

State of the Energy Union: Progress made on the clean energy transition and a basis for green recovery

Why women have an essential role in biodiversity conservation

Election 2019: New, Updated seat projection for new Parliament

Millions at risk if Syria’s war moves to last redoubt of Idlib, warns senior aid official

The rise of vulnerable populations and care measures: what has been learned so far in times of the pandemic

Climate experts pledge to scale up high-altitude fight against mountain melt

‘No-deal’ Brexit preparedness: European Commission takes stock of preparations and provides practical guidance to ensure coordinated EU approach

This Canadian company transforms plastic waste into building materials

Mergers: Commission refers acquisition of newly created joint venture by Telefónica and Liberty Global to the UK competition authority

This is Amsterdam’s ambitious plan to turn its transport electric

Does EURES really exist?

How central banks are tackling climate change risks

We had the hottest June ever this year – this is what happened around the world

This is how good governance can make sure technology works for everyone

Mozambique pledging conference hopes to soften devastating blow of back-to-back cyclones

MEPs demand safe and clean travel

Why we must reimagine capacity building to strengthen education after COVID-19

Entrepreneurship’s key to success showcased by a serial young entrepreneur

Eurozone stuck in a high risk deflation area; Draghi expects further price plunge

Newly displaced fleeing attacks in northeast Nigeria, top 2,000

African elephants under continued threat of poaching, warns UN-backed report

To build back better, we must reinvent capitalism. Here’s how

EU approves close to €240 million to strengthen resilience in neighbouring countries hosting Syrian refugees in light of the coronavirus pandemic

10 ways regulators need to change in 2020

Humans account for only 0.01% of life on Earth – but our impact has been immense

UN human rights chief regrets closure of Burundi office following Government pressure

GSMA Announces Latest Event Updates for 2018 “Mobile World Congress Americas, in Partnership with CTIA”

The key takeaways of G7 Summit in Canada

Closing the gaps in accelerating women’s rights : the role of medical students.

How the digital economy is shaping a new Bangladesh

UN commission agrees roadmap on ensuring women’s social protection, mobility, safety, and access to economic opportunities

UK Labour Party leader Corbyn readies to change Brexit political backdrop

How a ‘recipe dataset’ could help tackle obesity and diabetes

Jean-Claude Juncker and Theresa May at last week’s EU Council. Source: EC Audiovisual Services / Copyright: European Union, 2017 / Photo: Etienne Ansotte

EU leaders open “Phase Two” of Brexit talks and warn Theresa May of tougher times

Focus on EU’s external action and building our stronger inner core: von der Leyen at the Special European Council

EU decides “in absentia” of civil society

State aid: Commission approves €650 million Polish support to LOT in context of coronavirus outbreak

Commission’s report shows that targeted investment and robust digital policies boost Member States’ performance

EU countries invested €5 trillion abroad

High level political talks didn’t break the stalemate in Ukraine

Why cybersecurity should be standard due diligence for investors

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s