The UK’s largest extractive industry bodies including the Institute of Quarrying have joined forces to call on universities to provide high-quality education for their future workforce.
The Institute of Quarrying was joined by the Critical Minerals Association (CMA (UK)), the Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining (IOM3), Mineral Products Association (MPA), Mineral Products Qualification Council (MPQC) and Mining Association of the UK (MAUK) in signing the open letter to university leaders earlier this week.
The letter argues that resources required for construction and infrastructure are facing rising global demand but the supply of skilled workers for these industries is not matching the demand.
The extractive industry, endorsed by the six organisations, will play a role in reducing reliance on virgin material and moving towards a circular economy. The letter sets out that this is only possible if workers have the required skills, education and training, with access to pathways into the industry.
“The mineral products sector provides the critical building blocks to support society and the economy. The sector is playing an essential part in delivering the sustainable low-carbon transition that is needed,” Institute of Quarrying chief executive James Thorne said.
“It is vital for the higher education sector to support our ongoing development through innovation, research and building the skills needed to drive our industry forward.”
The industry bodies want to see universities provide “evidence-based information about the key role of materials, minerals and mining in daily life and the transition to a low-carbon, resilient and resource-efficient society”.
It comes after IOM3 released it report The Talent Gap: Critical Skills for Critical Minerals and the CMA (UK) delivered its talent pipeline report. The essence of both reports highlight the need for a robust skills pipeline into the industry.
“If the UK wants to develop expertise, innovation and new businesses for critical minerals supply chains, it needs to build a talent pipeline of people skilled in geosciences, engineering, metallurgy and local planning,” CMA (UK) founder and chief executive officer Kirsty Benham said.
“Building a talent pipeline is vital to ensuring that we have the skills and expertise needed to solve the innovation challenges of tomorrow and to meet the demand required to sustain modern society.”
IOM3 chief executive Colin Church said universities had an important role to play in the industries’ push to decarbonisation.
“If we want to transition to a low-carbon, resilient and resource-efficient society, the responsible mining of metals and minerals is essential,” he said.
“This in turn means we need skilled professionals with high-quality education and training to do the work, and universities play an important role in this.”