The Changing World of Work for Primary Industries

April 10, 2022 | 5 minute read
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Author: Mark Souter, HCM Domain Lead, Oracle Consulting APAC

The largest transition in the way people source and use energy is occurring right now, at both a macro and local level, with the shift towards a net-zero carbon world. This shift has huge implications for the worlds of work across mining, engineering, construction and all primary industries. Change, adoption and innovation are key practices which are gaining pace and have become even more critical for these sectors, perhaps more than ever before. These industries are being driven by powerful factors and global leaders, across environmental groups, Governments and responding to expectations from changing societal norms. Hand-in-hand with this momentum is the digital-drive towards the “now of work”, coupled with the added fuel-injected changes that Covid19 brought, accelerating towards the workplace’s digital transition. Let’s take a look at two aligned areas HR can focus their strategies upon, to drive these industries’ environmental, societal and governance (ESG) targets and vision.

Building an Innovative Organization

The industries being discussed here have notable opportunity in front of them to reach to their established environmental, societal and governance (ESG) goals. That being said, they are also taking those opportunities to do in so in a more abbreviated, faster pace than what perhaps many expected. Whilst much of the narrative today is focused on climate change and decarbonisation, companies should think holistically and ensure their people and talent decisions reflect how they will reach and surpass their ESG commitments. Providing raw materials and minerals, across the multiple purposes which the industries serve society, will still be part of a low-carbon world. However with the transition to more renewable-focused supplies, it has created near-perfect conditions for sector leaders to recalibrate, align to a new “North Star” and innovate to create additional value. This new value opportunity can be seen across the industry as a whole, encompassing new ways of working that results in innovative organisations.
Before Covid19, primary industry CHRO’s and their talent acquisition teams were on the lookout for people who brought a background in multi-billion dollar industrial environments. This will continue, but those people alone will not solve for the ESG goals in front of their organisations. Reskilling and upskilling of a primary industry workforce, particularly in a time of low unemployment, will be needed to address ESG targets and the way in how to reach those goals. ESG goals are influencing CHRO’s and business leaders to consider non-traditional pools of talent and types of skills to work in the primary industries of today. Primary industries are in a period of transition, where volatility and uncertainty are commonplace. They could well benefit and progress towards their ESG goals, from reskilling and recalibrating their workforce, whilst complementing those talents with people from wider industries that are accustomed to working in a digital, uncertain and fast-paced world.
UEM Edgenta Berhad has worked with Oracle Consulting and has embraced the opportunity, continuing their digital transformation and have pressed ahead with more agile ways of working. Razman Ismail, Chief People Officer, mentions “We are always working towards enhancing the customer and supplier experiences and the way we interact with them, as well as making the experience seamless for our employees. This experience is crucial as part of the digital journey of our organisation to further align our aspiration across our operations.”
With new technologies that are introduced and adopted, not just at the coal face but also across the business, roles are evolving and they require new or different skill sets. It’s clear that organisations within primary industries cannot rely upon ‘buying’ talent, as much as what they may have done before. Australia, for example, is heading towards a sub 4 per cent unemployment rate. Organisations will need to become more innovative in understanding the people-investments already made with their existing workplace. Mining companies will need to be able to:

  • Detect, standardise and recommend skills for employees
  • Have a centralised place to view & manage skills and development
  • Provide personalised, contextualised AI-driven resources to help people grow
  • Enrich talent processes via AI-powered skills suggestions
  • Effectively manage their talent supply chain

In order to deliver upon these outcomes and experiences, innovative primary industries will manage their skills data and put it to use across the organisation.
The pre-2020 way of working will continue to be re-evaluated, as mining and primary industries reassess the critical nature and value of their workforce. The companies that win, will adapt to flexible work patterns, have an increased focus upon wellbeing and safety, as well as listen to the diverse voices in a workplace they can hear more from.

Creating a Sustainable Workforce

A challenge for these industries, is changing the outside perception and internal reality of their organisations. Some companies are pivoting more quickly than others in this area. However, the main challenges still lie ahead. One North American mining CEO was quoted as saying, “How can mining become acceptable to future generations?” Whilst mining is essential, “it’s an unloved industry. We’ve got to change that.” In parts of the globe, almost half of the mining workforce is over the age of 45. Today, people in the earlier stages of their working life, are clear in seeking work with purpose and many hold environmental concerns with the mining and engineering industries. According to the Australian Federal Government's Workplace Gender Equality Agency, women currently make up just 16 per cent of the mining workforce in Australia. In construction the number is even lower – women comprise only 11.7 per cent of the construction workforce. There is the opportunity for these sectors to change the narrative, to one that enables people to be the sustainable solution to these challenges, as part of an exciting, high tech primary industry. Companies that embrace a workforce that is diverse, inclusive and also embarks upon inclusion initiatives, will hold a competitive advantage over the next 10 to 20 years.
To have a sustainable workforce, the attraction, retention, and development of skilled talent and future leaders must become the critical priority. With Oracle Consulting, your organisation can link these three areas, on one common platform. Companies can attract the best candidates, boost productivity and improve people-related decisions with end-to-end talent management. HR technology can bring a blend of AI and talent analytics, that can help reduce unconscious bias and promote more diverse hiring and talent progression, as well as algorithms to eliminate bias in the recruitment process. The primary industry organisations that execute on these areas focussing on sustainability, with the enabling HR technology, will position themselves as leaders in the new energy future and begin the legacy of a safer, more environmentally-stable world.
What are your thoughts on HR, innovation and sustainability across the mining, engineering, construction and primary industries? Oracle Consulting has many stories of working with organisations that have embarked upon their digital workplace transformation. Why don’t you consider having a conversation with your local Oracle Consulting team? You can hear some of these stories and the validation of value from our clients, who are forging new digital employee and customer experiences.

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