Facing Workforce Shortage, Mining Leaders, Employment Agencies Create Special Job Fair

By KBJR News 1

January 23, 2013 Updated Jan 23, 2013 at 9:03 PM CDT

Hibbing, MN (NNCNOW.com) - The rapid growth of the mining industry in Northern Minnesota, paired with the impending retirement of its aging workforce, has left employers facing a major shortage of employees.

"Our baby boomer generation, we call it the great tsunami, is retiring and we just don't have enough young people to step in those positions," said Marla Beaty of DEED.

According to IRRRB Director of Workforce Development, Roy Smith, between the mines themselves and the many suppliers and vendors in the region, there are thousands of job opportunities. Jobs in need of people with the right skill set to fill them.

"[The ideal candidate would be] somebody that comes in and we would consider them a hybrid type employee. Where they've got a background in maybe electrical, millwright, mechanical, maintenance," said Magnetation Human Relations Manager, Sean Colter.

"We intend on growing another 20-percent this year, so our needs are basically to bring people in as drill helpers," said CEO & Founder of IDEA Drilling, Dick Backstrom.

Backstrom says that some of the jobs available at IDEA Drilling only require a high school degree. Training is given mostly on the job.

In an economy that's seen better days, it doesn't get much better than an industry in need of workers. It's a message that employers and those at the Minnesota WorkForce Center are hoping to spread, by hosting Mining Industry Day, a job fair dedicated solely to the mining field.

"[The purpose is] to prepare them correctly, so their skill sets match the employers," said Employment Counselor for the Minnesota WorkForce Center, Bob Hocking, "For a lot of years, you [could] read statistics and look at books and that type of thing, but our directors have told us to go out into the field and talk to people."

Which is exactly what will be done at the event; employers and prospective employees coming together.

"We're going to be running some company videos during the event, hoping that people get a feeling for what the different companies are, what they're looking for, what they're about," said Charlotte Hanegmon of the Minnesota WorkForce Center.

Mining Industry Day will be held from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Friday, January 25th at the Minnesota Discovery Center in Chisholm.

Written for the web by Jennifer Austin.