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