23 August 2007

Western Australia needs 18,000 extra workers every year

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Unprecedented economic growth in Western Australia means that up to 17,800 extra skilled workers will be desperately needed every year for the next ten years, according to a report launched today by education and training minister Mark McGowan. Some of these skilled workers must come from Australia immigration.

The Beyond the Resources Boom study was commissioned by the State Training Board (STB), and examines Western Australia's economic growth and the challenges faced by the state's workforce.

Skill shortages are set to remain a feature of the labour market, the report concludes, due to the strength of the economy and the ageing workforce. STB chairman Keith Spence said the demand would be met through a combination of general population growth, skilled immigration from interstate and overseas, and the development of local training initiatives.

Among the top performing occupations, in terms of projected annual average employment growth between 2006 and 2016, are intermediate mining and construction workers, plumbers, structural construction tradespersons, and mining, construction and related labourers. Demand for jobs in the mining and construction sectors is very high and a downturn is considered unlikely.

Many of these occupations are on the Australia Skilled Occupation List and the Australia MODL (Migration Occupations in Demand List), which entitles people applying for Australian immigration to extra points.

Economic projections modelled by the report indicate there is unlikely to be a boom-bust scenario in the short to medium term. This reflects the resource-driven construction boom, which is underpinned by strong growth in demand from China and record commodity prices, particularly for the state's main export, iron ore.

Skilled occupations currently make up nearly 60 per cent of the workforce and the report forecasts that overall demand for higher skills in Western Australia is likely to remain constant as a proportion of the economy. Other skilled occupations in demand include managers, administrators, professionals, associate professionals, tradespersons and related clerical, sales, transport and production workers.

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