Labour shortfall in WA still a concern

At a recent industry breakfast, Peter Dyball said that WA’s labour shortage isn’t over as the need for staff to operate major resources projects grows. Australia is destined for further skills shortages and a reliance on temporary migrants despite the slowdown of work on major resources projects.

While the state’s current shortage of construction workers is expected to ease, it will be offset by a dearth of workers with the skills required to operate resources projects in a few years’ time.

Labour force analysis company Pitcrew estimates a current requirement for 33,000 construction workers – 1,500 more than the available workforce. That’s expected to ease to 27,000 in 2014 and 2015 as the current pull-back in mining investment flows through into the employment market.

However, a shortage of operational staff will take its place, with at least 5,000 workers needed, according to the most conservative forecasts – largely driven by investment in oil and gas projects. But that could rise to as many as 12,500 required workers depending on how investment in the resources sector as a whole played out.

Mr Dyball said the resources situation was far from “doom and gloom”, despite the pull-back in mining investment. He said that in December 2012 resources projects worth about $293 billion were planned, made up of $187 billion for approved investments and $106 billion earmarked for yet-to-be-approved projects.

That total investment figure has since reduced to $248 billion for all planned projects, largely due to a significant reduction in unapproved projects. There is now $67 billion invested in early-stage resources projects yet to gain approval.

But worldwide demand for Western Australia’s resources reinforced Mr Dyballʼs view that the mining boom was far from over. He said the value of the state’s exports was just under $126 billion for the current financial year.

“For 2020, at even the most conservative level, its $180 billion; that’s another $54 billion growth in exports over the next seven years,” Mr Dyball said.

Source Business News Shanna Crispin & Michael Ramsey 21-Aug-2013 09:00am