WA aims to lure interstate skilled workers

WA will launch a campaign to attract more skilled workers to fill shortages across industries.
WA will launch a campaign to attract more skilled workers to fill shortages across industries.

Its borders might be closed to much of the nation but Western Australia is reaching across the divide in a bid to lure more skilled workers.

The McGowan government has announced it will spend $4 million on a targeted advertising campaign to attract workers from interstate and New Zealand.

The campaign is one of several planned initiatives arising from a summit of government and industry leaders held in Perth last week.

Premier Mark McGowan says attracting workers from the eastern states to relocate to WA will play a key role in addressing skills shortages.

"What we find is very appealing to people over east is the price of houses here is significantly less than the cost of houses in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane," he told reporters.

"It's a big incentive, particularly because there's often quite well-paying jobs here."

The premier said details of the campaign would be ironed out and take into account the significant coronavirus outbreak in NSW.

WA's borders are currently closed to all of NSW, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA chief executive Chris Rodwell said businesses in the eastern states were reporting acute shortages of their own.

"The only way to fully and sustainably address shortages is through attracting workers from overseas," he said.

Mr Rodwell called for WA to implement a plan to safely access skilled overseas migrants, open up more space in its quarantine system including home quarantine options, and apply a risk-based approach to lockdowns.

Australian Hotels Association WA chief Bradley Woods said the campaign would help alleviate shortages in the hospitality industry, adding that it should include relocation assistance.

The premier has written to the Commonwealth requesting that the state-nominated migration program be expanded from 1100 to 5000 places.

That would allow existing visa holders to fill skilled positions including from an additional 134 occupation categories that were added last month.

The government will also delay some major infrastructure projects in a bid to "smooth out" high demand for tradies across the public and private sectors.

Details are expected to be revealed in the state budget.

Other initiatives include help for disadvantaged West Australians to secure their driver's licence and additional subsidies for employers hiring mature-aged apprentices.

Mr McGowan, in his capacity as treasurer, is expected to deliver a surplus of up to $5 billion when he delivers the budget in September.

Australian Associated Press