Foreign workers may fill gap in gas industry skills

A SKILLS shortage in the oil and gas industry may be filled by foreign workers if the resources industry and Australian governments do not do more to train workers, a new report has found.

The Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency says in its Resources Sector Skills Needs 2013 report that as mining investment winds down, tens of thousands of jobs are expected to go in the construction industry.

The ABC reports the agency recommends the resources industry works with governments and education providers to develop a national strategy for the oil and gas industry, with new university courses and apprenticeship schemes.

AWPA board member Keith Spence said a new approach was needed to get more local workers into oil and gas.

"Industry needs to work together rather than independently," he told the ABC.

The report found the minerals industry would need about 18,000 more skilled workers up to 2018 as the mining industry continued to expand, and moved from the construction to the production phase.

But it would be difficult to source many of these specialist roles locally, so highly trained foreign workers were expected to be hired as supervisors in Australia's booming oil and gas industry.

The AWPA report found the mining industry remained male dominated with 85 per cent of the workforce male.

A high proportion of mining workers were highly skilled compared to the rest of the workforce, with nearly two-thirds holding a Certificate III level qualification or higher, compared to 58 per cent across all industries.

Mining industry workers also tended be older, with 58 per cent of workers aged from 25 to 44, compared to the all industries average of 45 per cent.

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