14 October 2010

Experts say Australian immigration and training programs must match future demand

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If the Government fails to use education, immigration and training programs to meet future labour needs Australia could experience a second skills shortage, experts believe.

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Australia may experience a skills shortage, unless training and the Australian immigration program can adapted to meet future demands.

The global financial crisis barely dented Australia's employment market, although it temporarily relieved wage pressures. Unemployment peaked at 5.8 per cent for three months in the middle of last year but has now returned to 5.1 per cent, the same level as late 2005.

Without an increase in the number of skilled workers, through training or Australian immigration, new infrastructure projects could face significant delays industry insiders say.

Global managing partner of mining and metals for the executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles, Jim Hayman, said the difficulties in securing senior project managers has already resulted in a year-on-year increase in remuneration packages of about 25 per cent.

"Companies are willing to pay thousands more to get the right person. If it means that the project isn't delayed then it is viewed as money well spent because it could save millions of dollars down the track," he said.

The head of the Australian Constructors Association, Jim Barrett, said skill shortages threatened the commercial and residential building sectors.

The association's biannual Construction Outlook, to be released next week, is expected to highlight increasing labour market shortages.

Skills Australia's chief executive, Robin Shreeve, said they expect shortages would become acute in 2015, particularly in health care, education, mining and engineering.


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