|Energy and Minerals School Reinvestment Position|
The industrial minerals industry has been hit hard in recent years by a steady decrease in the number of workers available. This worker shortage has been getting progressively worse over the last several years. In an attempt to ease the burdens facing the mining and energy industries, Congress has introduced legislation in previous Congressional sessions known as the Energy and Mineral Schools Reinvestment Act (EMSRA). The attempts at passing the legislation came up short due in large part to it being associated with less popular legislation.
The Industrial Minerals Association-North America (IMA-NA) continues to support the passage of this legislation. The need for this legislation continues to increase. The industrial mineral industry is quickly approaching a critical stage, as the number of qualified workers available continues to drop. The legislation proposed in EMSRA would make it a national policy to preserve and foster the human capital necessary for national economic, energy and minerals security. The legislation declares that mining and petroleum schools and applied geology and geophysics schools which produce the human capital are national assets which will be assisted with federal funds.
EMSRA will provide the necessary funds for existing programs at Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology accredited mining and petroleum schools, applied geology and geophysics programs, and to individuals for degrees in mining and petroleum engineering, mining/petroleum geology and geophysics and mineral economics. This will help to ensure that there will be an increase in the number of undergraduates enrolled in the supported programs, which will help produce more geologists, geophysicists and engineers for the industry.
Legislation is desperately needed to help fund these programs. Over the past twenty-five years, the number of mining schools has been cut by over fifty percent from 25 schools to 12 schools. The primary reason for the decline has been the high cost of programs and the economic demands on Universities to cut costs where they can. Because of this steep drop in the number of schools, there has been a correlating drop in the number of students enrolled in these programs nationally.
IMA-NA supports the goals of the EMSRA legislation to assist through federal funding the ability to maintain and encourage the growth of the mining and energy workforce. This is an important national issue. Without an adequate workforce, two of the most essential aspects of the economy, minerals and energy, cannot be domestically produced. The industrial minerals industry has reported worker shortages at all levels of their operations. The situation will only get worse over the next decade as a large number of the active engineers and geologist will be eligible to retire over this period. Without federal legislation to help support these programs at the university level, there will be an inadequate number of employees eligible to fill these positions. This will greatly damage the industrial minerals industry and the national economy, which heavily relies on the items produced by the industry.
IMA-NA stands ready to work with Congress in addressing this important issue. The funding of schools provided by EMSRA is vital to the survival of those schools that remain open, and to establish new programs to help build the workforce for the industry.