The Minerals Industry National Associate Degree (MINAD) project commenced in 2012 as a partial solution to address a long-term, endemic shortage of professionals in the Mining Engineering and Geoscience disciplines in Australia. The MINAD project engaged educational providers, mining companies and relevant industry organizations to design, develop and pilot the two programs at two Australian education providers in 2014.
The intent of the MINAD project was to address the shortage of mining engineers and minerals geoscientists. An aspect of this was to extol to the minerals industry the benefits of enhancing the para-professional workforce in order to establish an alternate pathway in the development of future professionals. In part this took the form of a MINAD Business Case as a mechanism to identify industry needs and expectations, to assess viability of proposed MINAD programs and to develop this new alternate para-professional into the workforce.
In 2013 an Industry sub-committee was formed to develop a business case for a paraprofessional role within the minerals industry. The sub-committee undertook an environmental analysis, a benefits analysis survey, and a workforce redesign review. Utilising the Workforce Development Employment model by Blacker et al (2011) this paper looks at how the approach undertaken by the sub-committee underscored stage 4 of the model concerning the need for ongoing partnership and workforce planning.
The MINAD Business Case demonstrates an approach that provides value add to the WDE Model, primarily around (stage 4) determining the need for ongoing partnership and workforce planning. The environmental analysis looked to validate “the best potential solution to workforce needs” (stage 1), and these findings were further validated by the benefits analysis survey, which also provided clear labour market signals to education providers. Finally, the process of working through redesign issues with the assistance of the MINAD education sub-committee has greatly contributed towards the advance of transitional outcomes to future MINAD students. This collaborative approach is indeed an essential ingredient for ‘employment logic’ in education programs.
The MINAD project is distinct from other new education programs in that it has “strong linkages with employers in the design, delivery, and assessment,” of the program. The WDE model by Blacker et al (2011) provides a useful framework for engagement between industry, higher education and the VET sectors. This paper focused on Stage Four of the WDE model and introduced the approach that the Industry sub-committee took to develop a business case for paraprofessionals within the minerals industry. This approach has ultimately validated stage one findings, strengthened ties between social partners, and developed clear labour market signals to education providers. Such an approach at stage 4 of the WDE model may be useful to other education providers or industries.
Associate Degree, Mining, Geoscience, Industry Collaboration.