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Australia’s energy sector sees workforce shortages

Oilfield Technology,

Increasing global demand for LNG has spurred a frenzy of major LNG construction projects in Australia in recent years; whilst this is certainly a good sign for the Australian economy, the significantly increased levels of workforce demand has seen companies operating in the region sometimes struggle to find qualified employees.

Some analysts have pointed to the growing age-gap between the so-called baby-boomers, who are nearing retirement, and the current generation of younger workers who have suffered as a result of the lack of technical training provided in the 1990s.

Additional concerns such as the high cost of housing in Australia as well as the perceived lack of facilities (such as schools etc.) in the small and remote communities, around which the Australian energy industry is often based, can also dissuade workers from moving to the country.

Australia also has strict immigration quotas that only allow workers with certain skills to move to the country. Despite their importance to the economy LNG professionals are frequently barred from the country because of these quotas. Some estimates show that approximately 70 000 additional skilled employees will be required to fully staff Australian LNG projects; the fact that many of them can’t even enter the country to work shows just how significant the problem is becoming.

There are, however, some positive signs. Apprenticeship schemes and high starting salaries certainly help to attract younger talent. The recently implemented enterprise management agreements (EMAs), which enable companies to bring in employees (if a project’s Capex is over US$ 2 billion and is going to create more than 1500 jobs), have also given companies greater flexibility.

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