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News Media Releases Soaring youth unemployment is the real story behind WA’s resource boom
Soaring youth unemployment is the real story behind WA’s resource boom
Friday, 18 November 2011 11:33

The lack of investment in training and local job opportunities by the big resource companies is evident in sky-rocketing youth unemployment in a state this is supposedly in the grips of labour shortages.

New figures from the ABS show youth unemployment in WA is steadily increasing. In the South West Metropolitan region the full time youth unemployment rate in October this year was 24.6%. This is up from 16.3% in 2008.



UnionsWA believes these figures can be directly linked to the decline in trainee numbers and apprenticeships in WA. Despite WA’s booming resource sector and continual demands by large companies to increase the numbers of skilled migrants, there are fewer and fewer trainee and apprenticeship opportunities available.

Examining the crucial high demand areas of engineering and construction, figures from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) reveal that in WA between 2008 and 2010, the numbers of people training as apprentices or trainees in these occupations declined by over 2,000. This is despite an increase in the numbers of people employed in those areas.

UnionsWA Secretary Simone McGurk said the numbers painted a picture in stark contrast to the glossy advertisements of resource companies attempting to talk up the benefits of the boom for West Australians.

“These statistics plainly show that the big resource companies have no interest in investing in training and development to enable WA’s kids to benefit from our state’s resources.”

This sentiment is supported by the NCVER report - ‘Tradespeople for the resources sector: projections 2010–20’ - which states on page 20:

In addition, it is clear that the resources sector is not actually pulling its weight when it comes to training the trades. It employs far fewer apprentices than would be expected from its share of trade employment. Thus one obvious way of ensuring that skilled labour is not a constraint, however unlikely that is, is for the sector to engage in more training itself.

“While Colin Barnett and Simon O’Brien churn out a steady stream of media releases crowing about work from the large resource projects being awarded to local companies, the real story is painted in black and white in these shocking youth unemployment figures. In a state where resource companies continually warn of ‘skills shortages’, the same companies’ lack of investment in training and local opportunities means WA kids are missing out,” said Ms McGurk.

“Many of the smaller workshops in WA that have always been training grounds for young people in this state are missing out on work that is being sent offshore. As a result, these businesses are struggling and aren’t in a position to take on the numbers of apprentices and trainees that they have in the past.”

“The Barnett Government needs to step up and ensure more work flows to local businesses so they can continue to be the training grounds for our young people that they have in the past. They also need to ensure that companies exploiting WA’s resources are investing in training and development opportunities.”

“WA’s young people deserve the same opportunities for training and development that their parents and grandparents have enjoyed – especially during such an unprecedented resource boom.”

Simone McGurk is available for comment.

For more information contact: Madeleine Holme on 0417 060 360 or (08) 6313 6014



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