Word of foreign recruiting led to more Aussie applications

AN URGENT search for foreign workers has helped Bechtel increase the number of Australian workers in specialist positions.

Although the plan all along was to hire locally first, a lack of special class welders and pipefitters was posing problems for the advancing progress of the Curtis Island projects.

An aggressive advertising campaign attracted a very few Aussie specialists, so Bechtel brought out about 30 specialists from the United Kingdom and Ireland in the last month.

But after word spread of foreign recruiting, more Australians have applied for some of these specialist positions.

Bechtel did extensive labour mapping across Australia before the projects began, to ascertain how many of every trade would be needed and where they might be, to determine if it might have trouble recruiting the number of people for specialist trades.

Bechtel Gladstone general manager Kevin Berg said he was pleased that until recently, the company had been able to fill all the positions needed on these projects with Australians and New Zealanders.

"However recently, with special class welders and pipefitters with experience working in large scale industry, we were running out of candidates with the necessary skill set and experience we needed," he said.

"Our perfect dream would be if we could stop right now with the few people we have brought in and fill the remaining positions from within Australia."

He said foreign workers were an absolute last resort and it was hugely expensive to bring them over.

"What we learned long before we stuck the shovel in the ground, was that it would be difficult to staff our jobs," he said.

"Through collaboration with the union and local dignitaries, they were informed and aware of all the efforts we'd gone to...we came to the realisation we would have to go to Ireland and the UK."

He said it was a difficult process several people had to manage, which required much auditing from the government.

Worker needs

Special Class Welders

  • Need around 150
  • Have around 30 from the UK/Ireland

Special Class Pipefitters

  • Need between 75-100
  • Have a handful from overseas

Do you have the skills? Check out gladstoneprojects.com

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