November 24, 2017

Injecting new blood into the quarrying industry


The excavation, crushing and screening of aggregates can hardly be regarded as a sexy job and as such does not receive much attention from scholars and graduates who rather look towards more “glamorous” roles in other industries.

Yet, the industry needs new blood and new thinking in order to take it to the next level. For this reason, every effort should be made to attract newcomers, says Aggregate and Sand Producers Association of Southern Africa (Aspasa) director, Nico Pienaar. With a little branding and explanation, he suggests, the “shiny side” of aggregates can be exposed and younger generations can be shown the valuable role it plays in our daily lives.

He says the industry (as well as individual companies), needs to effectively communicate the benefit of employment within the industry in future if it wants to attract potential employees. The process of branding therefore needs to be taken to a recruitment level if the industry is to thrive in future. The value of our industry’s brand should therefore reflect the needs of potential employees.

Brand building

“Employers and industries who have “high employer brand value” are perceived by potential employees as more attractive than those with lower brand values. A potential employee’s appraisal of an employer brand is therefore prompted by factors including their awareness and perceptions of the employer brand which may be developed through word of mouth, personal experience and marketing strategies.

“Branding theory and practices should therefore be expanded to differentiate firms and the industry to make them desirable from an employee perspective. Just as traditional advertising communicates characteristics of a product to consumers, so too should employer branding be applied to recruitment and jobs should be regarded as products to attract current or potential employees.

“Maybe, we in the aggregate industry should apply the following methodology to attract new blood:

P – Provide a Positive Work Environment

R – Recognize, Reward, and Reinforce the Right Behaviour

I – Involve and Engage

D – Develop Skills and Potential

E – Evaluate and Measure

“Under the Final E – we need to start conduct and employee satisfaction surveys at least once a year, initiate interviews and surveys concerning the real reasons people come to and leave your organization, improve hiring processes to create a better match between the individual’s talent and job requirements.

“Also to provide flexible work arrangements for working parents and older workers, hold managers responsible for retention in their departments, start measuring the cost of turnover, focus on the key jobs that have the greatest impact on profitability and productivity. It is also worthwhile to examine those departments that have the highest turnover rates and design an effective employee orientation program,” says Nico.

New world

He continues that big changes are happening on the technology front and that it is dramatically changing the way companies work and the way we do things. Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairperson of the World Economic Forum (WEF) recently published a book, The Fourth Industrial Revolution, which formed the backdrop for discussions at the WEF Annual Meeting held in Davos in January this year.

In his book, Schwab argues that:

“Of many diverse and fascinating challenges we face today, the most intense and important is how to understand and shape the new technology revolution, which entails nothing less than a transformation of humankind. We are at the beginning of a revolution that is fundamentally changing the way we live, work and relate to one another. In its scale, scope and complexity, what I consider to be the fourth industrial revolution is unlike anything humankind has experienced before.

“Consider the unlimited possibilities of having billions of people connected by mobile devices, giving rise to unprecedented processing power, storage capabilities and knowledge access. Or think about the staggering confluence of emerging technology breakthroughs, covering wide-ranging fields such as artificial intelligence (AL), robotic, the internet of things (IoT), autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage and quantum computing, to name a few” (K. Schwab, 2015, The Fourth Industrial Revolution).

Managing change

This is echoed by Aspasa member, Andries Van Heerden, CEO of Afrimat, who adds, “Today business is different to what it was yesterday. Just look at how things have changed in our industry over the last five years. For example, the local construction industry was dominated by the “Big Five”. Today it is completely the opposite. Though many of the big construction contractors may talk tongue in cheek about the small players, they have just been blown out of the water, with the exception of one or two.

“The industry has changed a lot. Tomorrow, it is going to be different to what it is today. There are new factors that are driving the economy and new things that are becoming more important. It is all about strategic management, looking at the current environment and where we want to be, there the opportunities are and where the threats are. What was good that is not good anymore? It’s all about considering those factors and playing that game over time.”

What then are some of the skills needed in the Aggregate Industry? These are surely the most obvious:

  • Environmental
  • Safety and Health
  • Accounting and Finance
  • Information Technology
  • Manufacturing Operations
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Human Resources
  • Mining, Civil, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Geology

So how do we get the right people, motivate and retain without paying abnormal high wages? There are many ways but top of the list has got to be the provision of safe, satisfying, challenging work with fair remuneration and a good chance of advancement and reward for hard work.  Then there are people issues such as providing employees with responsibility and empowering them to be better every day. Give recognition or attention where it is due and provide them with coaching to do their jobs better.

Submitted by Aspasa, Nico Pienaar, Tel: (011) 791 3327, Fax: 086 647 8034, Email:, Web:


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