Australia changes policy to attract US workers

Surfer, Manly, Australia
Image caption Australia's weather and beaches have been a major attraction for immigrants

Australia is changing its immigration policy to attract more skilled workers from the US to fill posts in its booming mining and gas industries.

Currently, workers who are moving to Australia have their skills assessed when they arrive.

That can take months and there is the risk of rejection if their skills do not meet required standards.

Under the new plan, they would have their assessment in the US and could start work on arrival in Australia.

The Australian government expects demand for skilled construction workers to peak over the next three to five years.

Chris Evans, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research, said: "This is a great opportunity to address skill shortages in Australia by filling shortfalls in particular areas with qualified candidates from the United States, with applications expected to open from mid-April."

But the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) says plans by the mining and construction industries to go on an overseas hiring drive are "premature".

ACTU president Ged Kearney said: "While resources states such as Western Australia have very low unemployment, workers across the rest of the country are facing increasing rates of insecure work.

"Australian workers across the nation deserve the opportunity to benefit from the resources boom, which will provide a massive jobs boon in coming years."

ACTU says it does not oppose the initiative to match unemployed US workers with jobs in Australia, as long as there is a "genuine, temporary skill shortage".

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