Workers reluctant to leave family and relocate for job

RESOURCE sector employers have renewed calls to keep enterprise migration agreements, with new research released on Wednesday showing reluctance from experienced workers to move to remote sites for work.

While the Edith Cowan University research was based on the Western Australian mining industry, its findings were applicable to jobs in remote areas in Queensland.

Funded in part by the Australian Mines and Metals Association, the research showed many workers were reluctant to leave family and friends to relocate for a remote job.

It identified three solutions to the skills shortages in the industry; including more training of Australian workers, greater incentives to encourage relocation and continued use of overseas of overseas workers as a "short-term solution".

ECU academic Dr Susanne Bahn said the study showed mining company representatives had encountered reluctance to move from potential workers, especially to areas lacking in social infrastructure.

"Participants in this research recognised many benefits of integrating their local workforce with skilled temporary migrants, such as the transfer of international experience and unique knowledge and skills to the design and construction of Australian resource projects," she said.

"This ensures Australia remains a world-leader in terms of innovation and technology."

AMMA executive director of industry Minna Knight said the study showed temporary migration was still very important to the skills strategy for the resource industry.

"The study shows many cases where skilled workers based in the eastern states were reluctant to move to the west due to a lack of regional infrastructure and general lifestyle preferences," she said.

"The report also found that the initial cost in sourcing and recruiting temporary skilled migrants can reach $65,000 per worker, highlighting that employers only go down this path as a last resort to supplement their skilled domestic workforce where significant skills or experience gaps emerge."

The AMMA membership includes various resource companies and associated companies, and is led by a board including Orica, OZ Minerals, Woodside and Soxedo executives.