The Victorian government is being pushed to outline a timetable for billion dollar state projects in order to further stop the increasing state skills shortage.
The hope is that by in doing so, the government would entice skilled industry workers to stay local instead of following the buck over to Western Australia or Queensland.
Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) Chief Executive Mark Stone is in favour of using the state government’s second budget, which will be released in May, to promote long-term infrastructure plans as a way of instilling confidence in the skills-short state.
At the centre of the discussions is the multi-billion dollar East West Link project. With the estimated timeframe for the 18km road standing at close to ten years, the project will generate a large number of industry jobs on a long-term basis.
According to the VECCI, the suggested timetable would not only aid in keeping skilled contractors from finding work out of state, it would also offer greater investment confidence for major industry companies, who are also heading west.
VECCI chief executive Mark Stone cited construction, mining and engineering company John Holland, who are sending employees to the mines for engineering projects without the knowledge of the local job opportunities, as an example of the type of situation Victoria could face more and more often.
“They are flying them in and out of Western Australia at the moment to keep the skills within the company and not lose them to someone else or somewhere else,” he says.
Stone explains that greater knowledge of state infrastructure opportunities and their timeframes would allow for larger industry players to stay local.
“Companies like that need to have some idea what the prospects in Victoria are going to be over what timeframe, to then have confidence in keeping those staff on the books and not letting them go to a mining project in the Pilbara or somewhere like that,” he says.
Clearly any changes will have strong implications on the state budget, but those changes are something that the VECCI urge the premier to consider nonetheless.