Move west 'spurned' by workers
The report also found that the initial cost in sourcing and recruiting temporary skilled migrants can reach $65,000 per worker. Photo: Glenn Hunt
AUSTRALIANS with construction industry skills on the nation's east coast won't move to the west because of poor social infrastructure and the distance from family, a study of the sector has found.
The report, by Edith Cowan University academic Susanne Bahn and partially funded by the Australian Mines and Metals Association, said there was a genuine reluctance for skilled and experienced workers to move from Australia's east to remote locations in Western Australia.
Unions, however, rejected the report's findings. Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union national secretary Dave Noonan said the problem was not a lack of people wanting work in mining but a preference by big mining companies to employ overseas workers that they could pay less and provide with poorer conditions.
Australian Mines and Metals Association executive director Minna Knight said the study confirmed the small but important role temporary overseas workers played in getting big mining projects built on time and on budget.
The association wants more community support for overseas workers coming to Australia - a contentious issue, with more and more jobs going from the construction industry.
The most recent Bureau of Statistics figures on construction, released last month, show 68,000 jobs have been lost in the sector in the year to August.
The lead author on the study, Dr Bahn, said participants had indicated there was reluctance from Australian recruits to move west.
''Moving away from family and friends and a lack of social infrastructure [were] among the main reasons,'' she said.
The AMMA's Ms Knight said the study had identified remote areas of Western Australia where it was very difficult to attract the total number of skilled workers necessary.
The report also found that the initial cost in sourcing and recruiting temporary skilled migrants can reach $65,000 per worker. This highlights that employers only go down this path ''as a last resort'', she said.
Mr Noonan said there were now 25,000 construction industry job seekers on a government-run jobs website who wanted to work in Western Australia. ''And there are a handful of jobs [advertised],'' he said.