Australia’s acute skills shortage was brought sharply into focus last week when the head of Total, the French energy giant, argued that a lack of manpower was threatening the success of Australia’s booming energy sector.
Mr Christophe de Margerie, CEO of Total, applauded Australia for its unprecedented resources boom with surging demand from Asia for gas, coal, and iron ore but he added this cautionary note, “We are a little bit concerned about the capacity of the country (Australia) because of its limited numbers of inhabitants to bring in sufficient skilled people. And again, it’s a question of the number of projects that are coming on at the same time.”
His sentiment was echoed in Western Australia where the state government says it will be begging people to move to western Australia to address the state’s worsening skills shortage. According to Training and Workforce Development Minister Peter Collier, workers are needed across the board and not just in the mining sector. “Western Australia is facing the prospect of having a minimum of around 76,000 workers short, and skilled workers short, by 2015,” he said. “We simply can’t meet that demand from within Western Australia; we have to look both interstate and also overseas.”