Metronet could struggle with shortage
Questions are being asked about whether WA has enough workers with the right skills to complete the Metronet project.
The WA Government is issuing tenders for two Metronet projects. The first, with almost $4.75 billion in works, includes around 60 kilometres of new rail line in addition to the Forrestfield-Airport rail link.
But some say the state will struggle to find workers, with a total of 10 other major rail projects worth $1 billion or more either proposed or under construction nationwide.
At its peak, Metronet, is expected to require more than 3,000 workers.
“We simply are going to struggle to attract the rail talent and the civil infrastructure talent generally — civil project managers, designers and engineers — to Western Australia,” says Chris Kent, state regional director of Hays Recruitment.
WA drew in hordes of interstate and overseas workers for highly-paid jobs during its mining construction boom, but Mr Kent says that probably will not happen this time.
“The east coast was really struggling [at that time]. We were able to take all of the good people out of Melbourne and Sydney,” he said.
“We got a lot of people from the UK and this time around it's a little bit different, we've got a lot more competition.”
Rail Systems Australia – a company that specialises in rail signals and telecommunications design — says it has already seen the shortage.
The company’s managing director Tom Warner says it is very hard to attract and retain workers in WA amid competition for labour from interstate.
“There is a competition for salary, a competition for people. I think, as a consequence, it'll have an impact on pricing and costs here in WA,” Mr Warner said.
“We're lucky in our skill sets and our disciplines that we can transfer across different sectors, so the mining and oil and gas sector.
“Some of our engineers are equally capable in the rail sector, so that's a plus for us.”
The WA Government says it will use “creative procurement approaches” to plug any labour shortages.