The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen, has announced new measures to help Perth businesses attract the workers from overseas that they need and alleviate skills shortages in the resources sector.
In an address to the Migration Conference of the Australian Minerals and Metals Association (AMMA), Bowen said a record $380 billion in mining investment, nearly four times the average level for the past 30 years, was projected to lead to a shortage of 36,000 trades people by 2015.
'The simple fact is that there will not be enough Australian workers to get the job done. Skills shortages are not limited to mining projects, with opportunities for Australians in the resources sector leading to local skills shortages in other parts of Western Australia, particularly in Perth,' said Bowen.
'Therefore, for the purpose of greater access to skilled migration, Perth will now be considered a regional city and will be able to benefit from inclusion in the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme,' he explained.
'This will provide employers with another, easier avenue to recruit the skilled workers they need from overseas and give skilled temporary visa holders in Perth a more streamlined pathway to permanent migration,' he added.
For the first time ever, the government has specifically allocated 16,000 places for the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme in the recent Budget. This complements the government's record investment in skills training for domestic workers announced in the Budget.
The government's skilled migration programs are already significantly benefiting Western Australian business, with new statistics showing the number of temporary skilled 457 visa holders going to this state has more than doubled over the last year.
"A receives almost 20 per cent of all 457 visa holders, or 9,000 primary visa holders, despite only having 10% of the Australian population,' Bowen said.
'With 457 visa processing times 30% faster than five years ago, the government is quickly delivering skilled workers to where they are most needed. Skilled migration supports Australian businesses, our valuable resources sector, and the economy more broadly,' he added.