Gina Rinehart highlight's Australia's 'enormous shortage' of skilled workers

Date: Oct 28, 2011

The growing opportunities afforded through the use of skilled migrant workers has been highlighted by one of the country's leading industrial figures during a resources function held on October 26.

At the Commonwealth Business Forum in Perth, Gina Rinehart relayed the details of her company's sponsorship needs in its latest developments in Pilbara.

She claimed that in the last year Hancock Prospecting had to apply for more than 3,100 individual visas to get the operations at the Roy Hill iron ore facility up and running.

An immigration lawyer can assist in completing the necessary documentation for the sponsorship process, saving managers time otherwise spent on complex paperwork.

The features required by this development include a railway and port in addition to the mining and processing complex itself - and with the remote location the company was struggling to find adequately trained personnel.

Resources such as natural gas and iron ore are in high demand by both international and domestic markets, leading to a growing call for skilled workers to enter the labour pool in the north of Western Australia.

Rinehart told listeners that by 2015 the state would be facing a shortage of approximately 150,000 experienced employees needed to help the developments reach their full potential.

She said: "This is an enormous shortage we are headed to.

"Most senior positions are catered for, but it is very, very difficult to get the number of workers required."

This sentiment was echoed by a number of industry spokesmen involved in resource projects around Australia, with Woodside Petroleum chief executive Peter Coleman saying that growing demand for liquid gas from a number of countries could require a shift in population to exploit fully.

Colemen said: "A substantial part of Australia's skilled workforce needs to move west if we're to meet the ever growing demands from our region for resources and energy."

Chair of Shell Australia Ann Pickard also commented on the difficulties faced by energy firms, saying it was "a huge challenge to get people and local content".

"We find [it] a challenge finding the thousands of people needed for the jobs," she said, warning that labour costs in the resources sector are well ahead of their peers.

The advantage of international labour working together with local employees is that it allows the facilitation of valuable knowledge transfers over an extended period.

Australian workers are able to gain a better understanding of foreign practices from their experienced counterparts, while the international visa holders gain access to a lifestyle otherwise unavailable to them.

Migration lawyers can help to streamline the sponsorship process, ensuring the paperwork is in order before an application filed.