23/08/2007 - 12:56

Skills shortage: 18,000 extra workers needed every year

23/08/2007 - 12:56

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As many as 17,800 additional skilled workers will be required in Western Australia each year for the next ten years to cope with increased workforce needs, according to a report released today by the state government.

Skills shortage: 18,000 extra workers needed every year

As many as 17,800 additional skilled workers will be required in Western Australia each year for the next ten years to cope with increased workforce needs, according to a report released today by the state government.

The State Training Board's 'Beyond the Resources Boom' report, launched today by Education and Training Minister Mark McGowan, said the skills shortage would remain a feature of the WA labour market due to the strength of the economy and the ageing workforce.

Among the top performing occupations, in terms of projected annual average employment growth between 2006 and 2016, are intermediate mining and construction workers, plumbers, structural construction tradespersons, and mining, construction and related labourers.

Forecasters believe the WA economy is unlikely to face a boom-bust scenario in the short to medium term, looking at the resources-fuelled economic growth as more of a step change.

State Training Board chairman and senior Woodside executive Keith Spence said the demand would be met through a combination of general population growth, skilled migration from interstate and overseas, and the development of local training initiatives.

Mr Spence said training programs needed to be more flexible to encourage disengaged groups, such as the indigenous population and under 19s, to enter the workforce.

He said industries needed to invest in upskilling their existing workforce.

"Industry has to play a big role in this. The training sector needs to work closer with industry," he said. "To solve [the skills shortage] requires not just skilled migration, but a whole raft of solutions to be put in place."

The report said training programs must make it easier for people to become qualified in different occupations, enhancing the capacity of the workforce to react to any changes caused by shifts in the economy.

Mr Spence said the next step was for the report's findings to be incorporated into a white paper, looking more broadly at developing and coordinating a government strategy for training over the next 10 years.

 

Below is the full government annoucement:

It is estimated that an additional 180,000 skilled workers will be required in Western Australia by 2016, according to figures released by the Carpenter Government today.

Education and Training Minister Mark McGowan said the Department of Education and Training had modelled the projections on the findings contained within a new report into the State's projected workforce needs over the next decade.

Launching the State Training Board's 'Beyond the Resources Boom' report, Mr McGowan said an action plan would be drawn up to ensure the State was well equipped to deal with workforce needs into the future.

"The study highlights the challenges WA are facing with skill shortages set to remain a feature of the labour market due to the continued strength of the economy and our ageing workforce," he said.

"It is also shows the contribution that our training system can make to the development of the State's workforce to offset skill shortages in the future.

"During these good economic times many people are putting off investing in their own training and skills, and it is essential that we turn this situation around so that Western Australians are given every encouragement to develop their skills for the future workplace."

The Minister said the State Government had already made significant inroads into addressing skill shortages by injecting unprecedented funding into the training system and making a raft of landmark reforms to improve its effectiveness.

"Our approach is clearly working, since 2001 we have increased the number of apprenticeships and traineeships by 85 per cent, we are leading the nation.

"However, training our future workforce is a challenge for Government and the private sector to tackle together and we need to lay out the steps to do that."

Chair of the State Training Board Keith Spence said it was vital that industries invested in upskilling their existing workforce.

"Attaining higher level skills are essential if people are going to advance in their careers and find rewarding jobs," Mr Spence said.

"Upskilling staff also has a dual benefit for business by enhancing productivity and creating a work environment where people feel valued and want to stay."

Mr McGowan said that an action plan would be developed for the Western Australian training sector which would build on the reform process, already underway, to respond to the demand for skills for the State's economy now and for the future.

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