Case Study 04 (French):
Case Study 04: Developing a Skilled Workforce in Mauritania

THE ISSUE: Mineral resource development and its spinoff businesses can offer an important new source of high-quality jobs for people in developing countries. However, some developing nations lack the educational infrastructure or resources needed to adequately prepare candidates for skilled technical and professional positions in mining and related support industries. What measures can companies take to ensure they have the workforce to meet their current operations and future growth needs, while helping host nations build their educational capacity and prepare a new generation to compete successfully for skilled job opportunities?

The Kinross Way

One of Kinross’ biggest challenges in a highly competitive labour market is attracting and retaining the best workers. At our Tasiast operation in northern Mauritania, which is currently undergoing a major expansion, we face the additional challenge of recruiting and training large numbers of employees in a country where there is a major shortage of skilled mining and construction workers against a backdrop of high youth unemployment.

Of the approximately three million inhabitants of Mauritania, about half participate in the labour force. Only 22% of youth and 56% of all adults over 30 are employed. The country has about 350,000 unskilled youth who have not completed secondary education, while 65,000 school dropouts enter the labour market annually. Gender gaps are also substantial. For example, labour force participation and employment ratios for females are half those of males. 1

Since September 2010 and through June 2012, Tasiast operations, exploration and project activities have, together, created over 4,000 jobs for Mauritanians. As of June 2012, over 5,000 Mauritanians were employed by Kinross Tasiast and its contractors (1,242 Tasiast employees and 4,250 employees of contractors).

To address this growth challenge, Kinross has implemented a comprehensive human resource strategy in Mauritania to meet our workforce needs. We are making significant investments in employee training, providing skills-upgrades for our current workforce and establishing training opportunities to develop new employees, and in employee recruitment, by targeting specific labour pools such as Mauritanian graduates, nationals living outside the country, local residents, and women.

Investing in Training

Some of our training initiatives are being conducted in partnership with existing educational institutions and training centres. These partnerships focus on providing upgrading opportunities for our current workforce, and development and employment opportunities for new employees. We have also have created longer term programs to increase the academic levels of selected applicants in order to prepare them for specialized operator training or apprenticeship programs. Additionally, we have set up a testing and training centre in Nouakchott aimed at providing trade specific training and upgrades to graduates of technical national schools. Those upgrades, when successfully completed, often lead to employment within Tasiast directly or through a contractor.

Kinross expects its investment in Tasiast workforce training to total approximately $8 million in 2012, including salaries, equipment, and co-operative programs with technical institutes. As of July 2012, over 500 employees and trainees were involved in these training programs.

We are upgrading graduates of national technical schools and our workforce by:

  • Providing top-up training in welding, millwright, mechanical, and electrical and instrumentation skills in partnership with two Mauritanian technical schools and the country’s Ministry of Employment and Technical Training; and
  • Implementing many computer-based training programs for the operators and maintenance employees of the new Adsorption, Desorption and Refining plant, the mine and the current treatment plant.

We are developing new employees by:

  • Launching a driving school for heavy equipment operators, with students completing equipment-specific training at our mine;
  • Establishing off-site and on-site technical training facilities that focus on training personnel in specific skills, such as welding, electrical and instrumentation, as well as mobile equipment readiness programs required to operate the expanded mining and processing operation on a day-to-day basis; and
  • Exploring an initiative to help local youth upgrade their academic skills and strengthen their level of literacy. Our goal is to provide them with the basic disciplines they need to qualify for training for positions at our operations.

Investing in Recruitment

New employment is one of the key benefits that the Tasiast expansion is creating for Mauritania, and our goal is to fill most positions with Mauritanians with the appropriate experience, skills, and qualifications. We want to attract qualified Mauritanian nationals and new graduates, including those who may be studying or working outside of their country. To achieve this, we have:

  • Built a strong recruitment team, representing the various ethnic groups of Mauritania;
  • Sponsored a National Job Fair in early 2012, which offered employment seminars and workshops by representatives of Kinross and other private sector employers;
  • Established information centres in Nouakchott and Nouadhibou, to provide information about job opportunities at Tasiast and facilitate online and in-person applications; 
  • Opened a dedicated Mauritanian recruitment website, to promote and advertise our employment opportunities and provide online application capability; and
  • Met with more than 150 Mauritanians living in Canada and explained our employment opportunities. Other roadshows are scheduled before the end of 2012 in other countries.

Ongoing initiatives also include:

  • Providing targeted university graduates with their first work experience opportunity to increase their chances of getting permanent employment in the country;
  • Offering co-op programs to university students, providing them with work experience and helping Kinross identify promising candidates;
  • Exploring employment opportunities for families living near Tasiast; and 
  • Implementing targeted efforts to attract and recruit women, including radio advertising, female representation on our recruiting team, and culturally appropriate camp accommodations. The challenges of increasing the number of women in our workforce are great: of 65 students who took part in a recent electrical training program, only two were women, and only one graduated to continue in the electrical program.

1 2004 National Household Survey, published 2009. www-wds.worldbank.org/servlet/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2009/06/04/000158349_20090604085727/Rendered/PDF/WPS4954.pdf  

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