Mining boom will need 150,000 workers: Collier

December 10, 2010 – 12:57PM

The West Australian government will target overseas workers to help fill the gap in the state’s skills shortage which is expected to worsen as mining continues to expand.

Training and Workforce Development Minister Peter Collier announced the government’s workforce development plan to address a range of labour problems in the state.

One of the issues identified by Mr Collier was the easing of the skills shortage that is tipped to get worse with $220 billion worth of major projects, including the Ord River Expansion and the Oakajee port and rail project, over the coming years.

He said the number of workers leaving the workforce combined with population growth, it is forecast there will be a gap of about 150,000 workers in WA in the next seven years.

In addressing this problem, the minister said one of the goals would be to use skilled migrants to fill vacancies which cannot be filled by local workers.

As a result the WA government has signed an agreement with the federal government which will allow the state to sponsor 6000 visa applications for the 2010 program year.

”Training and preparing West Australians for the workforce is our number one priority,” Mr Collier said in a statement.

”However, targeted migration will be an important strategy in filling those high value vacancies unable to be filled by the local workforce.”

The government’s workforce development plan also aims to increase workforce participation among the unemployed, mature-aged workers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

WA’s Chamber of Minerals and Energy welcomed the plan saying attracting and retaining skilled workers was critical in delivering sustained economic growth in the resources sector.

”If we are to lock in long-term prosperity, a stable, skilled workforce is crucial,” CME chief executive Reg Mr Howard-Smith said.

”Direct employmewnt in the industry has doubled in less than a decade and tens of thousands of additional workers will be required over the next few years for the expanding number of projects.”


Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

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