Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Job ads boom as experts warn of skill shortages

Job advertisements surged 6 per cent in December, the strongest monthly growth since May 2007, but experts say the renewal of the mining boom threatens to force businesses again to compete ferociously for workers.

A day after WA was declared the nation’s best-performing economy, Treasurer Troy Buswell called for a State-based migration scheme and WA businesses were warned they should brace for a return to skilled labour shortages.

Survey showed vacancies increased for the second month running, but they still remain 22 per cent down compared with a year ago. In WA, newspaper advertisements rose 4 percent to almost 1700 a week, which was slightly lower than the previous year.

ANZ chief economist Warren Hogan said job advertisements bottomed out in July and the strong growth was helping keep al id on unemployment.

He expected Thursday’s unemployment figures to show the jobless rate steady at 5.7 percent, down from original estimates of 7-8 percent when the global financial crisis hit.

But the latest figures, together with a CommSec report finding the WA economy in strong shape, have sparked fresh fears businesses will see a repeat of labour shortages that hit the State two years ago.

WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry economic policy manager Dana Mason said a severe shortage of workers would hamper the State’s economy. “We need to develop a human capital strategy to ensure the dreds of thousands of extra workers local business will need in the years ahead,” she said.

Curtin University economics Professor Peter Kenyon said not enough time had passed between booms to build up the skills base of workers.

CommSec chief economist Craig James said businesses were trying frantically to fill positions before the labour market really began to tighten.

Mr. Buswell conceded that successive WA governments had failed to budge Commonwealth migration policy from a one size fits all model inhibitor that will stop us spreading the economic growth potential all around the State,” he said.

But Mr. Buswell said it was no use criticizing the Commonwelath and the WA Government. Business needed to work with the Rudd Government to come up with regional-based solutions to workforce shortages.

“I’ve spoken with industry groups about the need to establish a State migration strategy and that is something we need to action in the very near future,” he said.

--By. Andrew Tillett and Robert Taylor

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