20 July 2010

Population debate could lead to Western Australian skills shortage says chamber

Debate over Australia's sustainable population may impede West Australian (WA) businesses relying on workers from overseas, Western Australia’s top employer organisation said.

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A population debate may be counterproductive for Western Australia, that may suffer a skills shortage.

The Western Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry says the drive to limit the nation's population is being driven by infrastructure and planning problems on the east coast and this is a problem with state government planning, not skilled migration.

The chamber's business policy manager Nathan Taylor says forecasts show WA's growing economy will remain heavily reliant on foreign skilled migration, and constraining migration could have an economic impact in the state.

Mr Taylor said the chamber’s concern is that the sustainable population debate will fail to actually address those planning issues for infrastructure.

The State Government remains confident WA's business sector will get the foreign workers it needs as the economy grows. The Minister for Training, Peter Collier says the government is currently preparing its state migration plan ensure there are enough overseas workers to avoid a skills shortage.

"We will need and we will continue to need skilled migration both from overseas and interstate,” Mr Collier said.

"I am very very confident that that strategy will feed into the workforce development plan which I will be releasing in the next couple of months."

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