Australia opens door to international mining workers

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The Australian Government has added mining occupations to the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) to address the local skills shortage in the resources sector.

Twenty-two occupations were added to the PMSOL including mining and geotechnical engineer roles.

According to the Australian Resources and Energy Group (AMMA), there is a shortage of skilled workers to fill these roles domestically.

“Today’s announcement may well prove to be a turning point in Australia’s skills crisis,” AMMA chief executive officer Steve Knott said.

The PMSOL was announced in September 2020 and ensures certain critical occupations are filled to support Australia’s COVID-19 recovery.

The Western Australian labour market may require an additional 33,000 resources industry workers over the next two years, according to a Pit Crew Consulting Services report released on Monday.

Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alex Hawke said the Australian Government engaged with Australian employers, business leaders and industry bodies to determine the changes.

“Government has received valuable feedback from Australian business stakeholders on critical skill vacancies, which has been considered together with data from the National Skills Commission, in order to develop today’s update to the Priority Migration Skilled Migration List,” Hawke said.

“The Morrison Government will continue to support Australian businesses, including through skilled migration, as the engine room of our nation’s economy.”

Workers sponsored by an Australian business in a PMSOL occupation will be subject to quarantine arrangements at their own expense.

Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) chief executive officer Tania Constable welcomed the mining occupations added to the PMSOL.

“MCA continues to see an effective, flexible and functional skilled migration framework as more important than ever, so that relevant skills are available for and applied to projects and opportunities across industry,” she said.

“As Australia adjusts to a post-COVID environment, the role of skilled migration in accessing specialist and technical skills for the mining industry will be crucial.”

Knott said border closures have impacted the skills shortage that Australia’s resources industry is facing.

“Australia’s resources and energy industry has been firing on all cylinders throughout the pandemic. Hundreds of thousands of dedicated Australian employees have kept our industry among the most productive and prosperous in the world,” he said.

“However, prolonged closed borders to the small pool of international skilled migrants that supplement our domestic workforces has wreaked havoc on Australia’s resources industry, as it has most others.

“AMMA’s members have been reporting worsening skills shortages that have threatened to cripple our national recovery from the pandemic’s crushing economic impacts. Significant data and evidence have been provided to government at all levels about these serious skills issues for well over a year.

“The next step is for government to urgently formulate a roadmap to both domestic and international reopening. A clear roadmap will provide the business community with certainty and confidence to plan for future investment and employment opportunities.”

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