Western Australia gains more than its fair share of publicity whenever skills shortages are mentioned. As I wrote about last week in InSight #190, the WA Employment Minister has been on a jobs road show in Ireland and the UK, heavily promoting the vast numbers of new workers that the WA economy, fuelled by the mining boom, needs.
You would think, given all this publicity, that WA would be leading the Australian states’ jobs growth ‘league ladder’. In fact the reality is somewhat different. WA is 4th in percentage of new jobs added in the most recent financial year and also 4th in raw numbers, as the official ABS table below shows.
% increase in employment: July 2010 – June 2011
Jobs growth: July 2010 – June 2011
Total employed as at June 2011
Workforce Participation rate (%) as at June 2011
Victoria, an economy with no significant mining-related employment (although you would probably have to count the BHP Billiton Melbourne head office) easily outstripped the other states in adding 132,000 new jobs.
Somewhat surprisingly, it was the unfashionable South Australian economy that grew its workforce by the second highest amount (2.9%) of all the states and territories in the past 12 months.
There’s no doubt the media love a good crisis. But how much of this current ‘skills shortage crisis’, heavily promoted by both the WA Government and the state’s mining sector, is really a case of ‘the boy who cried wolf’?
This ABS data would appear to indicate that what the public have been witnessing is a compliant Australian media providing uncritical coverage of the potential dire economic impact caused by an alleged ‘skills shortage crisis’.