07 November 2012

University report concludes: Western Australia needs skilled migrants

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An extensive report published by the Edith Cowan University in Perth states that Australians' in the east remain reluctant to move west and therefore skilled migration is essential in ensuring Western Australia's continued growth.

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An extensive research project from Perth's Edith Cowan University has concluded Western Australia needs foreign skilled workers.

While several workers' unions have complained about the use of migrant workers in Western Australia's powerful mining industry, claiming Australians are available to do the work, Edith Cowan University's report adds substantial weight to the argument that the 457 visa will be vital in the state's future.

Susanne Bahn, lead researcher on the report, said Australian workers equated moving to Western Australian to moving overseas and despite the higher paid opportunities on offer, there were no real incentives to leave the populated east of the country, leaving foreign workers the only viable alternative.

"Moving away from family and friends, the fly-in, fly-out working arrangements, a lack of social infrastructure and accommodation with reasonable rents, and the perceived high cost of living were the main reasons [Australians did not want to move west]," said Dr Bahn.

"With a lack of willing or available Australian recruits, resources companies are left with little alternative other than to plug the recruitment gaps with specialist skilled migrant workers."

The report insisted that the use of foreign labour should not be seen as a necessary evil or a last resort, highlighting the positive effects foreign labour has on domestic workforce and the impact foreign labour has had on Australia in the past.

"Highly skilled migrants workers can also pass on their knowledge and skills to Australian workers thereby training in hew and innovative practices.

"Modern Australia has been built through skilled migration and it appears that this is a trend that is likely to continue with benefits for workers, employers and the nation."

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