Migrants unprepared for working in Western Australia

According to Western Australian government minister for Training and Workforce Development, many workers consider Western Australia to be at “the end of the earth” and many of those who move there on the promise of high wages can’t tolerate the isolation and heat.

As one of Australia’s largest labour hire firms yesterday urged against reliance on overseas workers, Mr Collier gave a frank assessment of the difficulties in attracting and retaining workers for WA’s roaring resources and mining industry.

“There are massive shifts from NSW to Queensland, but they seem to feel like they’re coming to the end of the earth here in WA,” he said.

The WA government had resorted to an information campaign assuring potential workers the state had internet, mobile phone coverage and other services that people were used to in the east, he said.

“It’s not just attracting them that is hard — if they come over with the prospect of earning $150,000 a year they quickly get a reality check: the stark reality of being so isolated and the temperatures.”

Programmed Group managing director Chris Sutherland, whose firm’s labour hire division has offices across Australia, said the huge shortfalls in blue-collar, semi-skilled and unskilled labour in WA could be filled from interstate rather than from overseas “if our clients give us enough opportunity to train existing skilled workers in the job-specific or specialist equipment needs of the project or operation”.

Mr Sutherland believes there may be no need — or much less need — for Enterprise Migration Agreements like the one reportedly being negotiated between the federal government and Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting.

“In one example we were looking for about 80 roles on a mine site and had 3600 applicants from across Australia,” Mr Sutherland said.

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