Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Rio Tinto lunch presentation

I attended an interesting presentation by the Chief Executive of Rio Tinto, Tom Albanese. Much of the discussion revolved around the Rio Tinto strategy moving forward - but nonetheless some interesting points made that have a bearing on HR and L and D planning as well.
1. Albanese sees a great sense of opportunity in Australia and says that how we react to these opportunities will define our future. Australia is in a strong position economically but it is at a critical juncture. The decisions that are taken now will have a massive impact on future generations.
How do we maximise and prolong our resources?
How do we deal with the skills shortage?
How do we lift the capacity of the minerals sector?
2. He sees an unprecedented move by people into cities from rural environments, particularly in developing countries such as China and India. About 1.4 billion people will move into cities globally and as they move they will require additional housing, roads, schools and consumer goods.
3. In order for Australia to take advantage of this sustained demand for metal, there is going to be a huge need for expertise and for skilled labour. Rio Tinto employs 17000 people in Australia and is the largest employer of Aboriginal labour as well.
4. Albanese sees the critical place for skills and training. 20 years ago engineers were being churned out in great numbers. To reach these types of numbers again we need major shifts in thinking. Today the attraction of banking has been more apparent than a career in engineering. So it is a full commitment required in the schooling system as well to ensure that people are steered to this sector.
5. Albanese also points out that in order to increase their talent pool, Rio Tinto has looked to the Aboriginal community. They have taken up the challenge of doing pre-employment training as well as adjusting the interview process to suit this community. 8% of the Rio Tinto workforce is Aboriginal.
In order to continue to punch above its weight globally, Australia need to see challenges as opportunities.

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