Officials from the Western Australia State Government and representatives from various business groups are going to the UK and Ireland to recruit much needed workers.
The state is facing a shortfall of 150,000 workers by 2017 with many of the jobs being created in the booming mining and resources industries.
Training and Workforce Development Minister Peter Collier said the demand for jobs in these sectors is also affecting other sectors as people move jobs to get top pay rates.
‘While the Government’s top priority is to ensure that jobs are filled from within WA, this alone will not be enough and targeted migration will be essential to boost our skilled labour needs,’ Collier said.
‘Our goal is to explore all options for not just increasing the participation of our local population, but also adding to the labour pool by attracting skilled workers from overseas and other parts of Australia,’ he added.
A number of business groups will join Collier for a 10-day trip including the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA, the Chamber of Minerals and Energy, Australian Hotels Association, Motor Trades Association and Civil Contractors Federation.
‘We will be making presentations at a range of migration related events in Leeds, Aberdeen, Dublin and London to promote WA’s attributes to potential skilled migrants,’ Collier added.
‘I will also be meeting with representatives from the UK and Irish governments, as well as key industry and training organisations to better understand their training and workforce development systems,’ he said.
The announcement of the trip comes as the State Government launched a website portal for overseas people keen to work in WA. Collier said the portal had been developed as a single web based point of entry for accurate and current information on skilled migration.
‘It includes access to information on living and working in WA, migration pathways and visas, opportunities for State Sponsorship, the WA Skilled Migration Occupation List and links to other useful sites, such as the Federal Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Tourism WA, and the Small Business Development Corporation,’ he said.
‘It is targeted at people who are thinking about emigrating from their country of residence, and employers who are considering using skilled migration as a workforce development strategy to meet their skill needs,’ added Collier.
High unemployment, close to 15%, in Ireland, means that there has been an increase in Irish people seeking to move to Australia for work. The new migrants are continuing an old tradition. Irish and English were among Australia’s first settlers, shipped to the continent as convict labour starting in the late 18th century.
Australia’s 1851 to 1861 Gold Rush lured hundreds of thousands more from the British Isles and they continued to stream in, seeking their fortunes in goldmines, until the early 20th century.
However, some immigration experts point out that getting a highly paid job in a mine is not for everyone. There may be large pay packets on offer but working in an open cut mine under a baking sun and live in remote mining towns like Karratha, where workers sleep in camps built from converted shipping containers, is not for everyone.
‘Potentially there are big fat pay packets for some people and, yes, the skies are sunny – sometimes too sunny. But it will be a bit different for people from Dublin to live in 40 degree heat in Karratha,’ said James Maund, general manager of recruitment firm Manpower Australia.
Australia’s overseas recruitment drive has so far focused on skilled workers, ranging from mine engineers and geologists to boilermakers and electricians.
The portal can be found at www.migration.wa.gov.au