Big Aussie firms to hire foreign workers

Last updated 15:02 13/06/2012

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More than two-thirds of large Australian companies are willing to hire foreign workers as the effect of the skills shortage is felt across a broad range of industries, a survey shows.

An Australian Institute of Management (AIM) National Salary Survey shows managers are having the most difficulty recruiting for technical and trade, sales and marketing and construction and engineering jobs.

AIM head of research Matt Drinan said the recent decision to grant mining billionaire Gina Rinehart's Roy Hill project an enterprise migration agreement (EMA) had placed the spotlight on skills shortages in WA, particularly on the mining sector.

"However, mining companies comprise a comparatively small proportion of Australia's employers and our data indicates that the  effects of the skills shortage is being felt across a broad range of industry sectors and job functions, nationally," Drinan said.

"In addition to organisations casting their net beyond our shores to help meet skills shortfalls, or as an alternative to this  practice, companies might be wise to look at developing existing staff to help fill skill gaps within their business."

While the strength of the mining sector was likely to be having some impact, recruitment difficulties could be partly explained by the higher proportion of organisations which reported an increase in permanent staff numbers over the past 12 months.

More than 70.2 per cent of large companies across the nation indicated that they would consider hiring staff from overseas in order to fill skills shortfalls while more than half the companies reported that they already employ overseas workers.

More than half the 511 companies surveyed across the nation said they already employ overseas workers.

Last month the federal government announced more than 1700  foreign workers could be brought in under an EMA for Gina Rinehart's Roy Hill iron ore project in the Pilbara, sparking controversy from unions and the public.

The government said it appreciates the mining industry's concerns about the rising costs of doing business in Australia.

In terms of wages, the AIM survey revealed 93.5 per cent of large companies paid salary increases in the 2011/2012 year for at least some employees.

Western Australia recorded the largest salary increases while Victoria and Tasmania recorded the smallest.

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- AAP

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