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SDG4: Quality Education

With our strong focus on sustainable development there is great potential for ICMM to support the mining and metals industry in making an important and lasting contribution towards the UN’s global goals. We work with members and partners to catalyse lasting social and economic progress that supports an end to poverty, protects the planet and ensures prosperity for all.

SDG4 calls for the extension of quality education provision for all before and beyond primary school, and equitable access to technical and vocational training to support decent jobs and enterprise development.

Obtaining a quality education is the foundation to improving people’s lives and sustainable development. Major progress has been made towards increasing access to education at all levels and increasing enrolment rates in schools particularly for women and girls. Basic literacy skills have improved markedly, yet bolder efforts are needed to make even greater strides for achieving universal education goals. For example, the world has achieved equality in primary education between girls and boys, but few countries have achieved that target at all levels of education.

How is this relevant to mining and metals?

Opposition to mining often stems from a perceived lack of economic benefit to those who bear a disproportionate share of the adverse impacts. But without effective education, the ability of local communities to capitalise on economic opportunities (as employees or service providers) is limited. And where local capacity is limited, the need to recruit employees from further afield can create tensions within local communities. Mining can contribute to quality education by working with the host government to help increase local capacity and through technical, vocational and educational training programmes for the current and future workforce. Such investments can also strengthen relationships with host communities.

What companies need to know to manage impacts or make a positive contribution

  1. The main forms of existing educational provision at an operational level, gaps in that provision, and plans to address these gaps by the responsible authorities.

  2. A baseline assessment of educational attainment and skills within the available labour force and an analysis of potential gaps against skills requirements over the life-of-mine.

  3. Opportunities to align company investments in education and skills development with existing public plans to help achieve long-term targets for local employment or procurement.

Minimising negative impacts

Maximising positive contributions

  • Recruit locally where practicable to strengthen the local economic benefits.

  • Train workforce in technical and management skills.

  • Undertake social investments to support local education provision to mitigate any adverse impacts on availability of school places.

  • Undertake regular skills audits and address gaps.

  • Sponsor apprenticeships, scholarships and graduate programmes.

  • Invest locally in training for livelihoods beyond mining.

  • Extend workforce education and training programmes to contractors and the community.

  • Collaborate with development agencies to strengthen local educational systems.