Skilled workers needed in mechanics, light metals work
By ALLAN McNEILallanm@gladstoneobserver.com.au
NEEDED URGENTLY: skilled workers to fill high- paid jobs in an attractive coastal area. This is the desperate situation in Gladstone, with a recent survey showing huge gaps in our local workforce.
Of particular note is a lack of engineering, me- chanical and technical workers, a concern consid- ering the high level of industrial activity in the region.
The survey conducted by Gladstone Area Promotion and Development Limited (GAPDL) showed that of the 256 local businesses who responded to the regional survey, 74 per cent struggled to attract the necessary staff.
According to the survey the reasons for the lack of workers included lower wages in Gladstone, a lack of qualifications and the region not being seen as an attractive location.
GAPDL general manager Danial Rochford said overcoming the local skills shortage was a three-pronged attack.
'We need to promote the positions available in order to try and fill them, educate our youth better and consider immediate options for skilled migra- tion,' Mr Rochford said.
He said that while apprenticeships were an at tractive option, using skilled migrants was often better.
'It takes four years to train an apprentice, whereas a skilled migrant has the skills now,' Mr Rochford said.
Mr Rochford said the GAPDL had applied to become a regional certifying body of immigration to help obtain overseas workers to fill skill gaps.
However, he said because skill shortages were being faced across the country, Gladstone was competing with other regional centres to attract workers.
Gladstone Engineering Alliance president Michael Fearns said a lack of projects could make it difficult to attract workers.
'Anything like another Comalco would attract people, you have to have the critical mass and from there are flow-on effects and it is self perpetuating,' Mr Fearns said.
'I think it is difficult to attract people to Gladstone unfortunately because we don't have the bright lights of the city.'