A SATCAP study completed over the 2019/2020 period titled Full Modernisation Impact Assessment serves as foundation to this study. The study recommended further investigation into the specific impacts of modernisation with a consideration for mining modernisation skills needs.

Thus the project focusses on the identification of skills needs, applicable for mining modernisation, for rock drill operators (RDOs), winch operators and shaft timber-persons. This study makes recommendations for curricular changes for the Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA) skills programmes for the three designations. The MQA was thus a key collaboration partner in this study.

Research and development

The research was informed by literature reviews, conducting online questionnaires and analysing a case study. The research team also worked closely with the MQA, and studied the job profiles of the three designations. Stakeholder inputs are central to the SATCAP programme and thus, inputs were gathered from industry experts and organised labour as well.


This study has confirmed that there will be impacts on the skills requirements for the future of the three designations investigated. The research team indicates that these impacts are not expected to be dramatic given the small increments in changes already taking place in mining operations.

Skills will be impacted through mining modernisation, and for the three designations, the impact will mean:

  • A need for higher literacy and numeracy levels;
  • Additional qualifications needs to support modernisation technologies, systems and processes;
  • Development in basic digital skills;
  • Enhanced technical and leadership skills;
  • Training for skills- mix;
  • MQA curriculum revised to support new skills needs, upskilling and reskilling needs;
  • Inclusion in change management processes;
  • Re-skilling will be needed for the designations to support new technologies, systems and processes; and
  • New skills may be required to support transfer and redeployment within and outside the sector.

Researchers noted that the three designations studied may need to be competent in, amongst others; handling of basic data, analyses, interpretation and dissemination. A potential for multi-skilling is also an option, for example: the shaft timber-person may require skills to support new roles or jobs in the future.

A skills needs matrix for each designation was developed as an output of this study with a focus on technical, leadership and digital skills. The recommended skills matrix serves as guidance to the mines of potential new skills, upskilling and reskilling needs, and also assist in informing development plans, profiles and organisational structures.



Research partners


University of Pretoria Enterprises

To read a detailed summary of the research report, click here.