Australia will target US workers, good idea?
United States construction workers will be encouraged to work in
Australia in a bid to address Australian skill shortages and US
Skills Minister Chris Evans said the government would
move to recognise US workers' trade skills in the US to smooth their
path to Australia.
"We haven't had strong recognition arrangements with the
United States of America," he told reporters in Canberra this afternoon.
program had been attracting "reasonable" levels of US workers, but
mainly in professional areas. According to the Department of
Immigration, the US made up 7 per cent of total 457 (temporary overseas
worker) visa applications from July to the end of February 2012.
"We have been discussing with the (US) ambassador and
American companies for some time whether or not we could do better at
attracting some of that labor to meet the emerging skills needs in the
Australian economy," he said.
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said that Australia
would also run an a skills expo in Houston, Texas next month to try and
attract skilled workers in resources, energy and infrastructure.
Mr Bowen said that there was no cap on or target for the
number of US workers but said he expected demand to be strong. "The
market will determine that," he said.
Mr Bowen said there were currently about 80,000 workers in Australia under the 457 visa.
Senator Evans said that the need for extra construction
workers in civil and heavy engineering trades was temporary - with
demand likely to peak over the next three to five years - for mining and
infrastructure projects. He said the government was wary of training up
large numbers of Australians who would then be left unemployed when the
US Ambassador to Australia Jeffrey Bleich said that unemployment in the US was currently at about 8.3 per cent.
"This is a real win-win for both of our nations," he said. "No job will be taken away from Australians."
Senator Evans said the moves to encourage US workers to come to Australia was not discriminatory.
"What these measures do is try and remove some barriers ... to people recruiting US workers," he said.
He said Australia already had similar arrangements with
the Philippines, India and had workers from "all over the world" in
"We don't discriminate on the basic of race," he said,
noting that there were language standards for occupational health and
Senator Evans said it would be mostly up to the employer to make the decision about where they brought workers from.
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