Australia can expect a boom in the construction industry, as an abundance of large-scale wind and solar projects will soon make use of Australia’s windy, sun-drenched shores. In the past, wind projects have been somewhat sporadic, with solar projects being even more scarce (recently, less than a handful of solar farms have been constructed).
Due to this previous project shortage, qualified and skilled experienced labourers are now hard to come by. The question is: where can one source experienced labour for the sudden influx of Australian renewable energy projects?
Australian universities have provided leading education in renewable energy but the lack of local jobs has caused local candidates to turn to Europe’s job market. Now, with such talent working offshore, the sudden boom in Australian energy projects makes the task of sourcing local talent a challenging one. Organisations may choose to recruit international talent through the 457 visa, but that option only offers a short-term solution and may lead to further visa complications.
However, the rarity of experienced Australian talent means local candidates are extremely expensive to recruit – a serious problem for the abundance of renewable energy projects set to commence in 2017.
As a specialised recruitment company, The Polyglot Group is now exploring new ways of sourcing and recruiting renewable energy specialists in Australia. At present, we are cooperating with several of our clients to investigate the possibility of using overseas talent to train a local workforce. We are currently building a protocol for this option, whereby engineering, procurement and construction management companies are encouraged to employ experienced talent from overseas as well as local Australian talent.
As part of this solution, training programs would see the experienced professionals share their skills with their Australian counterparts.
We believe that this option solves a number of problems. Not only would it ease the shortage of experienced renewable energy talent in Australia, but it is also necessary; when sponsoring international employees under the 457 visa, a company must spend 1% of its payroll on training for Australian employees.
Attaining a 400 or 457 visa would also be increasingly easy, as the training of Australian employees demonstrates commitment to this mandatory component.
In addition, recent studies have shown that worker productivity rates in Australia are up to 40% below their German counterparts. This statistic has nothing to do with laziness but rather is due to the fact that Australian job training opportunities are limited in this field.
As a result, we are certain that promoting a cross-cultural skills exchange is the way of the future, and we are proud to be committed to the implementation of this solution.
Jan Rieche is general manager energy, infrastructure and German clients at The Polyglot Group.