Plato?s words resonate as much today as they did over 2000 years ago ? capturing the imagination and passion of young people is paramount. The question is: How do you engage youth? And how do you introduce them to vocations that they otherwise may have overlooked?
Over the summer break, I attended two events that captivated children and adults alike. These events have loose ties to the quarrying industry ? and could be unlikely mediums for reconnecting the industry and the public.
The first event was Brickvention at the Melbourne Town Hall in January. This is an annual event put on by Lego enthusiasts who construct amazing recreations of places and objects from Lego bricks. Amongst recreations of Buckingham Palace, the Titanic, Parliament House and the Parkes radio telescope, I spied some radio-controlled recreations of earthmoving equipment, crafted from Lego bricks to scale and sporting the Caterpillar logo: a dozer, an excavator, a wheel loader, a hauler with trailer and a crane. Hundreds of kids crowded around this exhibit throughout the day. I?m sure they were attracted to the exhibit because of the radio-controlled construction equipment and I couldn?t help thinking they were a potential captive audience for learning more about the construction process.
The second event I visited was Toytopia, a sand sculpture exhibition at the Frankston Waterfront (see Chucky comes to play in Frankston). Around 3500 tonnes of quarry sand has been carved and sculpted by 25 Australian and international artists into recreations of childhood toys, building blocks and vehicles. To boot, organiser Sandstorm Events has prepared kids? events on weekends, including a sand pit with scaled down, coin-operated diggers. Again, it occurred to me that kids could also learn more about where the sand came from and how it was processed. After all, the sand was shipped from Aidan J Graham Quarries? Langwarrin site.
At last year?s IQA conference, IQA board member Leanne Parker presented a YouTube video of a classic Australian TV advert for Tonka that featured kids in hard hats and work overalls in a sand pit playing with scaled down versions of a wheel loader, a dump truck, an excavator, a grader and a cement mixer. Leanne made the point that the Australian quarry industry needs to go back to nurturing future employees ?from the sand pit to the stockpile?. If the quarry industry is to recruit young workers in the future, then it needs to consider today the ways it can capture their interest and enthusiasm ? and this may be through support of unlikely, innovative mediums like Brickvention and Toytopia.
Some quarry businesses show their worth to their communities through organising open days, keeping residents informed of developments via their websites and the social media and through supporting local community events and charitable causes. Organisations like the IQA and Beacon Foundation, in conjunction with industry suppliers, are playing significant roles in educating adolescents about the career opportunities available in quarrying (see Business school enhances prospects for skilled labour). Are these efforts enough? Or is a more united, co-ordinated, strategic response from within the industry required?
As quarries compete with their mining cousins for skilled labour, perhaps you need to be asking yourself: What can your business do to nurture future workers from the sand pit to the stockpile? ?