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Addressing the Talent Gap: CoRE's Innovative Approach to STEM Education

Students examining rocks.

The mining industry is currently facing a crisis—a looming shortage of skilled professionals threatens its sustainability and growth. This concern stems from the imminent retirement of experienced workers and a dwindling interest among younger generations in pursuing careers in mining. As highlighted in a recent article by Lisa Ali from AngloGold Ashanti, the industry confronts a talent gap that poses significant challenges to its future operations and innovation.


Lisa Ali and many other industry experts have brought to light the severity of the issue, citing declining enrolments in mining courses and low interest among young people in pursuing mining careers. Despite offering competitive salaries and the increasing demand for metals crucial in green energy technologies like electric cars, the industry struggles to attract new talent. Negative perceptions of mining, coupled with concerns over environmental and social impacts, contribute to the industry's challenges in recruiting young professionals.


In response to the pressing talent gap in the mining industry, non-profit organisations like the CoRE Learning Foundation are pioneering innovative approaches to interdisciplinary Earth Science education and actively reshaping perceptions about the sector. The CoRE Learning Model has transformed traditional classrooms into dynamic hubs of exploration and discovery. Students tackle real-world challenges through immersive Project-Based Learning (PBL) initiatives, applying scientific principles to solve complex problems. We're inspiring teachers and students to see mining as a dynamic field ripe with opportunities for innovation and problem-solving. Our mission is to instil excitement about tackling industry challenges and fostering creative solutions for the future. Moreover, we emphasise the critical importance of different minerals and the various careers associated with them. By integrating industry insights and practical experiences into our curriculum, we're empowering students to envision impactful careers in fields associated with mining and Earth sciences.


Our Gamifying Earth Sciences project is more than just fun and games; it's a strategic response to industry challenges. By integrating industry insights and practical experiences into our curriculum, we're empowering students to envision impactful careers in fields associated with mining and Earth sciences. It starts in primary school. Through these engaging challenges and simulations, students gain insights into the practical applications of interdisciplinary Earth sciences in the workforce. They develop critical skills like problem-solving and collaboration, which are essential for success in the dynamic environment of the mining industry and beyond. This approach ensures that students are well-prepared to meet the demands of their future careers and contribute meaningfully to the industry.


We have created a word frequency analysis from student feedback revealing the transformative impact of the CoRE Learning Model. The analysis indicates that students overwhelmingly associate CoRE Learning with their future career pathways, with words like 'future' comprising 49% of the data pool. This underscores the program's effectiveness in preparing students with the knowledge and skills essential for their professional journeys.



Left: PBL Keyword Analysis. Right: STEM Skills relevant word frequency.
Left: PBL Keyword Analysis. Right: STEM Skills relevant word frequency.

CoRE's long-standing partnerships with industry leaders, including BHP, Newmont, Ramelius, and Australian Geoscience Council, have changed students' educational outlooks. Through mentorship programs, exposure to industry, and immersive field trips, these partnerships have created a seamless integration of academic learning and real-world application. By providing students with practical experiences directly relevant to the mining sector and other STEM-related fields, CoRE empowers them with valuable knowledge and skills essential for their future careers in an engaging, friendly and fun environment.



Left: Career centric word frequency. Right: Categories of keywords.
Left: Career centric word frequency. Right: Categories of keywords.

CoRE understands the critical importance of addressing the talent gap in the mining industry. By providing students with practical, real-world earth science learning experiences and STEM skills, CoRE is future-proofing the Australian resources industry and ensuring the readiness of the next generation. As Suzy Urbaniak's nomination for the Women In Resources Awards demonstrates, the transformative impact of initiatives like CoRE extends far beyond the classroom walls, shaping the future of STEM education and industry innovation. We work with educators to understand the industry so that they disseminate this information, content and skills to their students.

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