US workers to score desperately needed mining jobs

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Engineers, surveyors, and tradespeople from the US will soon form part of a lucky group scoring well-paid mining jobs in Australia’s resources industry.

The West Australian reports the Federal Government will be hosting expos in Houston, Texas, next month to look for workers to fill desperately needed mining shortages.

The Skills Australia Needs road show will also target US combat veterans and other workers struggling to find jobs in the ailing US economy.

After already benefitting from similar schemes aimed at Irish workers large companies like BHP Billiton and Chevron are strongly backing the move.

According to The West Australian US Ambassador to Australia Jeff Bleich said while some veterans didn’t have experience they could capitalise on transferrable skills picked up from working in "difficult environments".

"They are fully prepared to go out to the Pilbara and up to Karratha and some of the more remote regions where these jobs are mostly in demand," he said.

According to the WA Chamber of Minerals and Energy the Pilbara will need 34,000 extra workers over the next three to five years, with 27,000 working in construction.

Skills Minister Chris Evans said temporary US workers were a "good fit" for Australian mining jobs because they spoke the same language and understood the work culture.

But ACTU president Ged Kearney told The Sydney Morning Herald more proof needed to be given to show workers couldn’t be found in Australia.

”There is no way unions, government, or the wider community can be confident that employers have made every effort to provide job and training opportunities to Australians before resorting to the use of overseas labour — whether from the US or any other country,” he said.

Last week a Roy Hill spokesperson said there would eventually be over 10,000 jobs available on Gina Rinehart’s Pilbara developments and 2,000 would be filled by Australians.

They said labour market analysts had indicated there were a "whole heap of shortages" in Australia and while the priority was to fill jobs with locals foreign workers would also be needed.

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