The Federal Government has announced that Perth will be classified as a regional centre in a bid to streamline overseas recruitment.


Federal Immigration Minister Chris Bowen announced that Perth’s reclassification will make the city eligible for the government’s Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme.


The move has been welcomed by business groups who hope that reclassification will serve to stave off the state’s growing skill shortage as the mining and resource industry continues to draw in an increasing share of the skill labour pool.


In an address to the Migration Conference of the Australian Minerals and Metals Association (AMMA), Mr Bowen said a record $380 billion in mining investment – nearly four times the average level for the past 30 years – was projected to lead to a shortage of 36,000 tradespeople by 2015.


“The simple fact is that there will not be enough Australian workers to get the job done,” Mr Bowen said.

“Skills shortages are not limited to mining projects, with opportunities for Australians in the resources sector leading to local skills shortages in other parts of Western Australia, particularly in Perth.

“Therefore, for the purpose of greater access to skilled migration, Perth will now be considered a regional city and will be able to benefit from inclusion in the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme.

“This will provide employers with another, easier avenue to recruit the skilled workers they need from overseas and give skilled temporary visa holders in Perth a more streamlined pathway to permanent migration.”


The repositioning of Perth as a regional centre comes as the Federal Government allocated 16,000 places for the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme, resulting in significant growth of temporary skilled 457 visa holders.


“WA receives almost 20 per cent of all 457 visa holders – or 9000 primary visa holders – despite only having 10 per cent of the Australian population,” Mr Bowen said.

“With 457 visa processing times 30 per cent faster than five years ago, the Government is quickly delivering skilled workers to where they are most needed.