Bechtel defend hiring outside of Gladstone

Bechtel has hit back at claims they are shutting experienced locals out of work, saying the 500 positions they need are in highly skilled roles.

An outcry erupted on Australian Mining’s site this week, when we reported construction company Bechtel were looking to hire 500 workers to work on three LNG projects on Curtis Island in Gladstone.

“What a load of crap,” one reader wrote.

“I am a tradie boilermaker welder with experience in the construction industry 20yrs+ I have been applying for positions on all the LNG projects and guess I am still unemployed.”

“I’m a builder, concreter, carpenter, with 30 years experience in the building industry Lucky I’m not holding my breath for a reply,” another stated.

Locals are increasingly disappointed when workers are sourced from other areas.

They say the company should be hiring from within the local community first.

"I stop in to buy my newspaper early in the morning, and I see lots of people with Bechtel uniforms, and you know they're not local,” one local told the Observer after applying for a job with the company twelve months ago.

"I've lived in Gladstone for 10 years, and I've got 43 years experience.”

But Bechtel Gladstone general manager Kevin Berg said current vacancies for trades workers were "highly skilled roles".

"I need to emphasise that the work we perform is demanding, heavy industrial construction," he said.

"It's not residential or light commercial or building construction, and the experiences you gain performing that work don't always transfer over."

"We have been extremely fortunate to have a high number of highly skilled and qualified locals to fill the majority of the roles to date in Gladstone," Berg said.

"As we transition into other phases of construction, we have always expected that we would need to employ people from outside the local region."

He said analysis showed local shortages of special class welders, instrument fitters, electricians and riggers.

"A special class welder isn't a welder or a boilermaker – they are like chalk and cheese."

Berg said more than 28,000 people had registered interest for Bechtel trade roles, and professional vacancies had received up to 125 applications each.