Western Australia facing skilled worker shortage

Western Australia may be forced to turn to skilled immigrants in order to fend off the threat of a skilled worker shortage.

New figures show that the total number of local apprentices and trainees in the Australian state fell by 10 per cent in the year to March. There were 39,629 apprentices in Western Australia as of 31st March 2016, but this number had dropped to 35,631 12 months later.

And some experts believe this drop in local Australians being trained for work could make the state reliant on skilled immigrants to fill job shortages.

“Businesses tell us that if training numbers continue to decline, we will see skill shortages in three to five years,” said a spokeswoman for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Western Australia. “This could lead to a reliance on skilled migration, as we saw during the mining construction boom, instead of local job creation, as the Government pledged during the election.”

Over the past couple of years, Western Australia has slashed the number of occupations open for skilled migrants from 178 to just 18. Yet with fewer apprentices training for work, the state government is being urged to further increase incentives for training or be forced to turn to overseas workers.

“To achieve a skilled local workforce, the Government can’t (afford to) put their foot on the pipeline of apprenticeship and traineeship support while also reducing the skilled migration list — this shuts down every option available to business,” the spokeswoman added.

Article published 20th September 2017