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Mining companies begin to ramp up staffing efforts

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Lindsey Schultz, MRC Recruiting CEO, joined Yahoo Finance Live to discuss mining companies ramping up staffing efforts.

Video Transcript

ADAM SHAPIRO: Copper prices are hitting new highs, and there's no end in sight. So you would think now would be a good time to get a job perhaps in the mining industry. But good luck. It's hard recruiting people. Lindsay Schultz is the CEO of MRC Recruiting. Mining companies are having difficulty ramping up their staffing in order to meet the demand for things like copper. Where are you seeing it most? Is it, for instance, copper mines or is it across the board?

LINDSEY SCHULTZ: It's really across the board. We've had issues recruiting into to base metals, as well as copper, gold, and even things like lithium, which is a high demand metal for some of the EV cars that we're seeing now.

SEANA SMITH: Lindsey, why hasn't the industry been able to attract younger professionals? And how do you, I guess, how are you going about addressing this issue?

LINDSEY SCHULTZ: Sure. It's a bit of a loaded question I think. The mining industry has been boom or bust for as long as anybody can remember. I mean, that's why you have old mining towns that you drive by off the side of the freeway and aren't there anymore. But there are mines, and none of them are in convenient places, which is one of the reasons that we see some individuals not entering the industry as much.

But with the boom and bust, location of operations, the reputation of the industry generally, and just a lack of awareness of opportunity within the mining industry I think has really affected our ability to attract new talent in. So I think moving forward, it's our job to create outside awareness and talk really about all of the opportunities globally that mining presents.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Well, what is the role you perform? Are you looking for engineers or are you looking for the actual people who go into the mines? I'm looking at Cleveland-Cliffs right now, which is trading near its 52-week high, and I always try to throw in a Cleveland connection, because I love the city. But they mine taconite in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. So what is it that you perform for say a Cleveland-Cliffs?

LINDSEY SCHULTZ: So for our company, for MRC, we recruit for the most part degreed level professionals and up. That's starting to include individuals with technology backgrounds and technology certificates. So really could be a very skilled mining maintenance professional, it could be a programmer, it could be a CEO of a mining company. So that's really where our focus is.

SEANA SMITH: Lindsey, did the pandemic at all slow down this sector even more just in terms of not so much the performance of the sector, but just in terms of attracting new talent? Has that had any [AUDIO OUT] on that?

LINDSEY SCHULTZ: You know, it was a pretty quick knee jerk reaction I would say last March where no one knew what was going to happen and what was going on. So students were already in school and getting ready to be let out, but potentially with no opportunities. It acted just like another quick cycle or uncertainty I guess in our industry, where individuals weren't positive where they might go.

But really it didn't slow things down significantly. Probably just for a brief time period. And now we're really looking at a significant ramping up of things. I think the pandemic has contributed to some higher level attrition within our industry, specifically individuals not wanting to deal with teams meeting or Zoom, not being able to travel as freely as they had previously, and business as usual is not as usual anymore. So we've seen potentially another 3% to 5% retire over this time period, which is exacerbating the need for new talent.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Could it become easier for you to recruit though? We talked about the instability in mining. It looks as if mining, especially because of the demand for EV components, whether it be copper or lithium for the batteries, that's not going away. The experts are all telling us, get ready, it's here to stay.

LINDSEY SCHULTZ: And we're all sort of crossing our fingers. I think we've all seen these cycles and the enthusiasm when gold was up several years ago was the highest it had been, and now it's again the highest it's ever been. So we're hoping that we can create some more sustainable models, and that's part of I think of the solution that we have to represent within the industry, is sustainability, to create jobs on and off site.

Investment in education or infrastructure in some of the locations where mines are. And really, that's part of the vision or mission driven organization that really attracts millennials and Generation Z moving forward from that [INAUDIBLE], who are really concerned with aligning their ideas with the value and purpose-driven organization that matches their own closely.

SEANA SMITH: How about attracting more women into this space? Because it's an extremely male-dominated industry. The there's been diversification efforts within mining, but it hasn't simply worked as well as it has in other industries. So how do you address that?

LINDSEY SCHULTZ: That's a bit of a loaded question. I think that the latest statistic that I've seen, women represent roughly 15% of the mining industry across the board. So that could be from entry level geologists all the way up to a CEO of an organization. So certainly underrepresented group. And I think that there are a lot of organizations and companies tackling this. I think Canada more recently has legislated that we be more active in diversity inclusion programs.

And I think that that'll take a bit of a charge in leading that component within the industry, because a lot of the companies are headquartered in Canada. So I think that that will be interesting to see how it affects it. But there's also a lot of organizations, Mining Institutes, Human Resource Council has always sort of been and taken an active part in educating both indigenous populations, First Nations in Canada, Native Americans here in the US, as well as women.

And sort of one of their ideas is to hire local and train up. And so I think that that's a really great way of doing it and keeping people engaged in the workforce. Because we've seen individuals, particularly women and particularly in geology roles or field-related roles within mining, exit the workforce after about five to seven years to go have families or whatever. And I think the idea of having dual income work or households has changed mining's ability to [INTERPOSING VOICES].

ADAM SHAPIRO: The whole world has changed. I mean, they used to call geology, rocks for jocks. But now, you know, rocks for women too. So I got to just ask you, Lindsey, that's the coolest bookcase I've ever seen over your shoulder. I thought you had this precarious tower of books, but that's into the wall. It's pretty neat.

LINDSEY SCHULTZ: It's my tower of books.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Lindsey Schultz, your tower of books. Lindsey Schultz, MRC Recruiting CEO. We wish you the best. We hope to have you come back.