Skilled migrant worker numbers set to increase in WA

Date: Oct 27, 2011

Perth's mining sector may be set to increase the number of skilled migrants working in the industry after it was found that the gap between labour requirements and the availability of experienced employees is growing.

A recent survey by audit firm KPMG has found that 80 per cent of Western Australian firms that participated were planning to hire international employees at some time in the next 12 months.

Research identified the big difference between supply and demand for experienced workers to be the main cause - affecting 61 per cent of all the businesses covered by the nation-wide study.

WA was the worst hit by the lack of skilled employees - with nearly 66 per cent of businesses surveyed in the state experiencing a measurable shortfall in efficiency - while Queensland employers were the least concerned.

While the recorded increases in real estate costs may act as a deterrent for some interstate workers, KPMG partner in migration services Jason Berry said that a combination of improved job opportunities and the chance to live in Australia would prove to be a strong incentive for many foreign workers.

According to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), businesses in WA have already begun sponsoring international employees in an attempt to balance out the skill sets demonstrated by their labour pools.

Data from the DIAC shows that the number of 457 visas issued to people working in Western Australian organisations had increased by 85 per cent over the last year in July, with 1230 foreign nationals employed as a result.

Firms that engage in sponsoring skilled migrants stand to benefit in a range of ways and may benefit from engaging with a migration lawyer to gain a better understanding of the processes involved.

In a previous report submitted to the federal government, the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association said that international employees played an important part in educating the local workforce.

It stated: "These skilled workers pass on their techniques and experience through knowledge transfer to Australian industry, thus sharing critical experience and good practices from overseas and adding value to the economy."

While the opportunities represented by sponsoring international employees can be valuable, the processes can be time consuming.

In addition, an application requires a number of fees to be paid to the DIAC - funds that, if unsuccessful, will not be returned.

An immigration lawyer can help a firm to make the best use of their time and assets by guiding them through the sponsorship process.