Debate on migrants working in the mining industry continues

By Michael Crump | 10 October 2012

There has been much discussion in the media of late around migrant workers taking jobs from Australians, particularly in the mining industry where business is booming. Whilst Prime Minister Julia Gillard is urging the industry to recruit local workers rather than import migrant workers, many industry officials argue that temporary migrants play an essential role in the industry by filling highly-skilled vacancies that cannot be met domestically in the short term. By ensuring that migrant workers are strictly regulated by short to medium term visas (two to four years), Australia’s jobs are kept safe for local workers once a sufficient number of people are skilled in this area.

At a recent conference in Perth, which was dedicated to overcoming specialised skills shortages in mining oil and gas operations, research was presented that suggests that, not only is there a skills shortage of qualified Australians in the mining industry, but a shortage of Australians willing to move to the rural and Western parts of the country where the industry is most prominent.

The research, which was conducted by Dr Susanne Bahn, from Edith Cowan University, is the first of its kind in this particular area and is a joint initiative of the ECU School of Management and resource industry employer group AMMA. The final report is expected to be released toward the end of the year.

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