11 January 2010

Analyst says Western Australia almost certainly faces skills shortage

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An economic analyst has predicted that Western Australia is almost certain to revisit the skilled labour shortages that came with the state's most recent mining boom in 2008.

In CommSec's State of the States report published today, Western Australia was named alongside the Australian Capital Territory as Australia's best performing economies, buoyed by mining-related construction and investment.

Peter Kenyon, professor of economic policy at Perth's Curtin University, said Western Australia was the state "in the right place at the right time", but there will be a penalty to be paid with the state set to again experience a skills shortage.

Skills shortages were the downside of the mining boom that ended in late 2008, and Professor Kenyon said the Australian Government needed to pay urgent attention to the policies of "long-term skills accumulation".

Long-term skills accumulation would need an emphasis on training local workers, but also the ability to actively recruit needed skilled workers from overseas as part of the skilled migration program.

"We would be better off if we could make more long-term decisions," he said.

Australia’s General Skilled Migration Program is the primary path for skilled workers to emigrate to Australia and there are a number of different Australian Visa classes for potential migrants.

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