New jobs migration plan could come to the Pilbara

Alicia PereraPilbara News
Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan.
Camera IconRegional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan. Credit: Pilbara News, Alicia Perera

A new jobs migration plan could soon be on the table for the Pilbara, with the State Government proposing to bring skilled migrants already in WA into the region to fill skilled job shortages if a pilot program in the Goldfields proves successful.

The Goldfields Migration Employment Program, rolled out in October, matches Perth-based skilled migrants and refugees with skilled work in the region if they are willing to relocate.

Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the State Government planned to review the program in coming months with the aim of implementing a similar program in the Pilbara if successful.

“We recognise that there are labour shortages in parts of the Pilbara, which will continue to grow as new resources projects move into construction over the next two years,” she said.

“Rather than looking to temporary foreign labour to fill those shortages, our Government is focused on attracting migrants and refugees that have already settled in Perth out to the regions. This effort will help to drive down unemployment in the metro area and will make our regional centres more sustainable and diverse into the future.”

It comes after the Federal Government renewed a push to introduce a Designated Area Migration Agreement in the Pilbara late last year, which would allow migrants to come to the Pilbara to fill job shortages in occupations outside the resources sector, including in hospitality, childcare and administration.

However, the agreement has stalled after main advocate the Pilbara Regional Council folded, and the plan has so far failed to secure the support of all local governments in the region.

Durack MLA Melissa Price said the Department of Immigration had since re-engaged with the Pilbara councils and discussions were ongoing.

“During the last mining boom, Pilbara businesses struggled at times to fill vacancies,” she said.

“A DAMA may help Pilbara businesses to grow and is the reason why I support its introduction, however it needs all parties to agree.”

Karratha and Districts Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Kylah Morrison said a migration plan of some kind would be a “critical component” of addressing labour shortages during the approaching upcycle.

“We’re going to have to be throwing everything at this to make sure we get the benefits and choices for our local communities, and that will involve using as many tools in the toolbox as possible,” she said.

Immigration Minister David Coleman signed off on a DAMA for the Goldfields last month.

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