Skills migration necessary for WA’s investment pipeline
Posted : Wednesday, August 29, 2012
For WA to realise the economic potential of its investment
pipeline, the skills gap must be addressed through both training
and migration, an expert panel has told a CEDA forum in Perth.
Roy Hill, Chief Executive Officer, Barry
Fitzgerald said the Roy Hill iron ore project needs 8500
construction positions and all forecasts predict skilled labour
shortages, including independent studies that predict a shortfall
of up to 1715 skilled people.
Enterprise Migration Agreements (EMAs) are necessary to
demonstrate that if we can't source local labour we can still
construct projects, he said.
"EMA is about risk mitigation. It is about giving us certainty…
the assurance so we can go to the banks and say we can deliver the
project on time and on budget," he said.
Despite what some may think, the wages and employment conditions
must be the same for local and migrant workers and it actually
costs much more to recruit overseas, he said.
"It's only when we can't find skilled, available and competent
Australians that we will employ through the EMA," he said.
Skilled migration is necessary in WA to fill jobs unable to be
met by the local market, Department of Training and
Workforce Development, Executive Director Policy, Planning and
Innovation, Simon Walker said.
In this rapidly growing economy, we need to ensure we have the
skilled people to meet the needs of the state now and in the
future, he said.
Based on forecasts, and despite a ramp up of apprentices and
trainees, WA will have a potential deficit of 75,800 workers by
2015, he said.
"No matter what we do in the training system, particularly trade
training, 10,000 apprentices wouldn't be ready in time to service
the demand," he said.
"This is why we need a temporary migration scheme, like 457
visas, to fill that gap."
Chamber of Commerce and Industry Western Australia,
Manager - Migration Services, Glen Dival said: "WA has a
significant pipeline of investment activity and the major risk to
these projects is a shortage of labour, both skilled and
"There is certainty still a large pool of under-employed
workforce resources in WA…but that's not enough to meet the worker
needs of WA now or in the future.
"The first choice must always be to employ and train
Australians, but our demand for skilled labour is so high and so
varied that we must also have strong targeted migration programs,
to provide this state with the workers that we need.
"The existing immigration programs still do not provide
employers with the level of quick access necessary to meet their
"EMAs and RMAs (Regional Migration Agreements)…offer tremendous
potential, but they are bulky, inflexible and are taking far too
long to resolve.
"A regional version of the 457 visa program needs to be
re-introduced to WA so a broader range of occupations can be
sponsored by employers in regional WA.
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