The Transformation of Work and Learning in Mining

The Benefits of Combining Traditional and New Learning Technologies

The global mining industry is undergoing a technology renaissance unlike any other in its history. Mining companies are increasingly evaluating, investing in, and deploying innovative technologies that will drive productivity, safety, and ultimately shareholder value within their organizations.

These technologies are not only redefining the definition of work, but they are also reshaping the world of training and development. Understanding the new skills workers will need to operate these technologies competently and confidently – as well as evolving expectations of how these workers want to learn – must be at the forefront of decision making within mining companies.

It is safe to assume that the days of learning exclusively by listening to an instructor in a physical classroom are long gone. Many subjects and skills can be effectively taught only through hands-on experiential learning and trainees are coming to expect more creative and engaging learning and development pathways. As technologies such as augmented / virtual reality (AR/VR) and equipment simulation grow more prevalent, the opportunities to blend and integrate technology-driven, interactive, and experiential methods of workplace education have never been greater.

Developing and delivering "blended learning" programs for the skilled labour industries is a strategic priority for NORCAT, a Sudbury, Ont.-based skilled labour training and development centre serving the global mining industry. Quite simply, the new world of work has created a new world of training and development, and we believe blended learning can take mine worker training, engagement, and knowledge retention to the next level.

Let’s start at the beginning. When considering integrating learning technologies with traditional methods of education delivery, companies must first assess the learning content, desired learning outcomes, and target audiences. Some mining topics and training modules are not conducive to classroom- based training, and furthermore, some workers prefer more hands-on, experiential methods of learning. There’s a time and a place for all forms of learning, and it’s incumbent upon those who develop and deliver training to evaluate how best to create learning experiences that benefit the full spectrum of workers and produce the required learning outcomes.

Determining the right type of training can be a creative process that builds in the flexibility to adjust methods based on worker preferences. Younger workers are typically more tech savvy than their older counterparts, and often expect to use newer learning technologies such as VR / AR and simulation- based training as part of their learning and development journey. That said, over the past five years, experienced mine workers seeking to incrementally improve their operational skills have formed one of the largest cohorts to utilize NORCAT's equipment simulation training centre.

Read the full article by NORCAT CEO Don Duval in the August Edition of Canadian Mining Journal here