Why 1700 skilled migrants is good news for the Australian jobseeker

Last week the first enterprise migration agreement (EMA) was signed between the Australian government and Roy Hill iron ore project operated by Gina Rinehart.

It was widely reported more than 1700 skilled migrants will be brought into Australia over the next three years to work on that project.

What didn’t get as much column space was just how many Australian workers are going to benefit from the same project.

The facts about EMAs

Lots of misinformation has been floating around about the EMA program along with an awful lot of hype.

Here are some facts not often discussed:

  • An EMA can only be granted to projects where capital expenditure is in excess of $2billion.
  • The workforce for a project awarded an EMA must be greater than 1500 workers.
  • Migrant workers brought in under an EMA must be paid Australian wages and provided the same working conditions as any other Australian worker.
  • An employer bringing in migrant workers has an obligation to train at least an equal number of Australian workers.
  • Skilled migrants are coming in on temporary work visas, not permanent residency visas.

The Australian government has constructed these agreements to benefit the Australian workforce for the long term, while ensuring the short-term needs of the construction projects will be filled.

How Australians benefit from the Roy Hill project

While 1,700-1,800 skilled migrant workers will be brought into Australia during the construction phase of Roy Hill, the project will employ 8,000 people in total.

This means the vast majority of the workforce will be Australian.

In addition, Hancock Prospecting is obligated to train 2000 Australian workers in exchange for the short-term migration visas. 

About 83% of the $10 billion budget for Roy Hill will be spent on Australian workers on Australian manufactured, constructed or assembled goods.

The takeaway for Australian jobseekers

Australia is suffering from a significant skills shortage at the very moment massive projects are ready for construction.

10,000 people in the country are currently in apprenticeship programs but these take four years to complete.

Skilled migrants are required as a temporary skills injection for the short term to ensure jobs for 8,000 skilled Australians.

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This post originally featured on the Mining Oil and Gas Jobs blog.

Image: WAtoday

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