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CME reiterates call for skilled migrants as it hits back at Gillard claims

Mining - November 15, 2011. "Australia was facing a skills shortage and not a labour shortage, Western Australian Chamber of Minerals and Energy (CME) CEO Reg Howard-Smith said on Monday as he reiterated a call for a flexible skilled migration programme. The CME chief responded to comments by Prime Minister Julia Gillard over the weekend that the Australian resources sector was not doing enough to employ local communities."

"Gillard reportedly said at a CEO Summit session at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation group, in Honolulu, that the nation’s workforce needed to match jobs of the future, putting the onus on companies to contribute to training, instead of complaining about labour shortages.

But Howard-Smith said that there was an immediate need for skilled workers and that training young people was a medium- to long-term solution.

“CME’s latest state growth outlook predicts an additional 33 000 workers will be required over the next few years in the Western Australia resources sector with the majority of positions being skilled trades people, engineers and metallurgists,” he said.

Howard-Smith added that people in areas of higher unemployment in Perth do not necessarily have the skills the resource sector required. “Equipping long-term unemployed with the right skills is an important role for government, and industry would welcome innovative policy responses in tackling the issue.”

He added that there was no single solution to the skills shortage.

“Fly-in Fly-out, along with investing in skills and training, increasing workforce diversity - with more women and indigenous employees - and a flexible skilled migration programme, will all play their role in meeting the skills shortage challenge,” Howard-Smith said.""



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