Gillard slams mine chiefs over skilled immigration

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Prime Minister Julia Gillard has slammed mining companies for demanding more overseas workers while parts of Perth have double digit unemployment levels.

Speaking at a CEO Summit at the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation group in Honolulu, Gillard said miners should contribute more to finding workers instead of complaining about skills shortages.

She said because of the strong growth in the resources sector many trades were in high demand.

She said miners needed to work with the Government to funnel young people into the trades sector.

“It is not acceptable to me that I can see a mining CEO who says ‘We’ve got this huge project in the northwest of the country and we can’t get anybody to come and work on it — and we need more immigration and more skilled labour’,” she said.

“And I can find in the suburbs of Perth pockets where youth unemployment is in double digits and those kids haven’t got a chance.”

“We’ve got to do better than that and make sure they get where the jobs are, with the skills they need.”

Gillard said the resources boom had created a “patchwork effect” for employment.

She said while many world leaders would envy Australia’s unemployment rate, the Government needed to work hard to ensure a wider section of the population saw the benefit of employment opportunities.

Many employment specialists say because of the highly technical nature of mining work it is often too expensive and time consuming for companies to train people without the relevant skills.

And the APPEA has previously said in submissions to the Government’s employment taskforce that even with an “open cheque book” there would not be enough people in Australia to fill mining jobs.

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