Mapping competency

OFTEN times when a newly graduated mining engineer emerges from university, mining companies are unsure of exactly what the individual knows and how suited he/she may be to fill management roles. To help answer these questions, a just-completed research project has compared the knowledge and skills of new graduates with the national competency framework for the mining industry.

Staff Reporter

The aim was to provide mining companies with clear guidelines on what skills mining professionals might need for career development.

The mapping of the undergraduate mining engineering courses was completed at four universities: University of Queensland, University of New South Wales, Curtin University of Technology (Western Australian School of Mines), and University of Ballarat. The project was completed as part of the Minerals Industry Co-operation Initiative project.

Theis results provide the mining industry with information about the relationship between current undergraduate courses and the requirements of the mandatory competencies in the national training packages for the mining industry.

These include the Coal Training Package, the Metalliferous Mining Training Package and the Extractive Industries Training Package. Fifteen mandatory competency areas were used and compared with 2004 university undergraduate courses.

Industry benefits by having details of the knowledge and skills mining engineering graduates can be expected to have. This will allow detailed career development for graduates joining the industry based on the recognition of acquired knowledge and skills. Further, companies will have additional information to align the qualifications and competencies required for statutory qualifications. Finally, it will assist in the transfer of knowledge and skills across industry sectors and regions, nationally and internationally.

The project was completed by personnel from the Minerals Industry Safety and Health Centre (MISHC) at the University of Queensland and the Queensland Mining Industry Training Advisory Body.

MISHC manager (Health Projects) Carmel Bofinger said there was a large amount of commonality between the university courses, with technical areas like ground control and ventilation usually well covered. Broadly speaking, areas not covered by university courses include management and systems.

A modified mapping process suitable for comparing the required knowledge and skills outlined in the competencies against the content of the undergraduate courses was established. The information recorded included the subjects covered and the hours allocated to that topic, the reference materials used, and the assessment processes.

Course outlines were provided and visits made to the universities to complete the mapping, with additional information provided by university staff involved in the undergraduate degrees.

Bofinger said it was anticipated the process would be repeated every five years, or when a major course change occurred, to maintain the currency and relevance of the information.

Mapping for the University of Wollongong course has also commenced.