Thursday, March 21, 2013

U.S. losing its skilled mining workforce

A new report from the National Academy of Sciences, "Emerging Workforce Trends in the U.S. Energy and Mining Industries"  concludes that "the United States is facing the loss of a large number of experienced energy and mining workers in industry, academia, and the government. At the same time, the current educational system is not producing enough qualified workers to fill future jobs, which increasingly require science and math skills. Some innovative solutions are being pursued, but more action is needed if the nation is to maintain a skilled workforce able to supply energy and mineral needs."  [Right, number of mining engineering graduates, 1974-2009. Credit, NRC report]

Among the many recommendations is that "national industry organizations and educational institutions should also embark on an informational campaign to educate students, parents, educators, and public policy makers about the importance of the energy mining industries to our economic and national security, the relevance of STEM education to jobs and careers in these industries, and job availability."   This would be aimed at overcoming "A negative public perception of U.S. extractive industries...[which] dissuades some from pursuing careers."


  1. Kim Hannula10:44 AM

    If the national industry organizations want more graduates with science degrees, they could show it by funding the students and departments that graduate the students that they want. Historically, they have (especially the oil & gas industry funding geosciences at research universities), but there's a need for scholarships (given the huge increases in tuition costs since the 1970s) and for infrastructure. (We don't have space for the increasing numbers of geology and engineering majors enrolled at Fort Lewis College; we've got a building planned, but no state funding to build it. We could do more to fill the demand for STEM graduates, if we had the building to teach them in.)

  2. Kim, I think those kinds of ideas are included in the recommendations in the report. Whether they can be implemented is probably the big challenge.

  3. Hobart6:43 PM

    State governments are ready to offer tax breaks of $1.7 billion to attract a natural gas cracker plant from State A to State B. That's an absolute give-away. Funding students and educational institutions should be considered an investment.

  4. Why then can my wife who is about to get her Masters not find employment?

  5. Anonymous12:41 AM

    brothers & sisters that is not matter if you are down pay and you are fully graduate why not for you to come to south Sudan who are seeking to get the qualify employee.

  6. There are a lot of great jobs out there, you just might have to re-locate. Try online job boards like