Calling America's builders: Australia needs you!

CANBERRA Mon Apr 2, 2012 6:05am EDT

A tradesman uses a nail gun on the framework of a new house on the outskirts of Melbourne August 3, 2010. REUTERS/Mick Tsikas

A tradesman uses a nail gun on the framework of a new house on the outskirts of Melbourne August 3, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Mick Tsikas

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australia has made a plea for American plumbers, electricians and builders to move down under to fill chronic shortages of skilled workers as the economy struggles to keep up with a resources boom fuelled by demand from China.

Industry projections from Australia's employment department show Australia will need 1.3 million extra workers over the next five years, including almost 200,000 more workers for the construction sector.

Australia will also need around 320,000 more health care and social assistance workers.

Australia has been running immigration seminars in India and Europe to attract skilled workers, and will now target the United States for the first time, with a skills expo set for Houston in Texas on May 19 and 20.

Australia's Skills Minister Chris Evans and the U.S. Ambassador to Australia Jeffrey Bleich on Monday unveiled a new scheme to help U.S. workers have their trade qualifications recognised more quickly in Australia.

"While the government's first priority is to train Australians for jobs in the resources and construction sectors, projections show that we will need workers from overseas for a peak in activity in the next three to five years," Evans said.

Australia, which avoided recession after the global financial crisis, has a tight labour market, with unemployment at 5.2 percent compared to the current 8.3 percent in the United States as its economy recovers from a deep slump.

(Reporting by James Grubel; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (4)
Nexus789 wrote:
More projections that are delusional. The economy will tank. The construction industry is tanking right now with a number of companies going under and others posting bad figures. All sectors other than mining are struggling. I sometimes think politicians live in an alternative universe to the rest of us.

Apr 02, 2012 6:37am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Watchfuleye wrote:
With unemployement at 5.2% and up to 10% in some suburbs why aren’t we using Australians to do these jobs? It doesn’t make sense. The governments excuse that people will simply be overtrained when the construction growth ‘spike’ disappears therefore its best to avoid training australian to begin with is unacceptable. Julia has reached too many agreements with the USA, too cosy with Obama..we now have thousands of US troops settling in to use australia as a base against asia.. america actually owes australia for allowing this huge and expanding military presence in our country.

Apr 02, 2012 7:01am EDT  --  Report as abuse
@ watchfuleye, very silly comments. This skill-full migration is mainly for Western Australia where unemployment is at 4% considered by many as “full employment”. Many jobs required are civil engineers, so if you eastern states people wanna come over and work come over and work otherwise quit complaining and as for your fear of US troops in Australia, there have been US troops in Australia on-off for years, not to mention the CIA bases in Australia. I welcome the US, Northern parts of Australia need protecting.

Apr 02, 2012 9:54am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.