The Kenny Government has engaged with the State Government of Western Australian to explore new sponsorship arrangements for Irish workers, particularly apprentices.
A tentative proposal for Irish apprentices in the construction, retail and hospitality industries to complete their training in Australia is being discussed.
The proposal is the result of Ireland’s junior Minister for Training and Skills, Ciarán Cannon, meeting the Western Australian Minister for Training and Workforce Development, Peter Collier, on July 14.
Mr Collier was in Dublin as part of a recruitment drive by the State Government, which has been vocal about the skills shortage it is facing as a result of the ongoing mining boom.
Enterprise Ireland held a briefing for Mr Collier on what Irish companies could offer to the state’s economy, which is expected to grow by between four and six per cent in 2012 -13.
Mr Collier and Mr Cannon discussed education and training, in what Minister Cannon described as “a very positive and constructive meeting”.
“The Irish and the Australian situations are very similar in that over the next year or so Australia, like Ireland, will see major skill shortages,” Minister Cannon claimed.
“The Australian authorities have indicated that they would like to ‘borrow’ Irish workers for a finite period — two, three or even four years — to fill the void in their skill shortages.
“We in Ireland have in the region of 4,000 apprentices in the construction sector who have not yet completed their apprenticeships and the Australian authorities have
indicated that they are more than willing to explore how completion might be facilitated in Australia.”
Mr Cannon said that the Irish workers and fully trained-up apprentices could then bring their expertise and work experience back to Ireland for the benefit of the Irish economy.
“Both authorities have signalled that they wish to draw up a memorandum of understanding to facilitate these workers to travel to Australia and the Australian authorities have said they will facilitate clearance of the workers in terms of visa, permits and other prerequisites to allow this to happen,” he added.
Following the meeting Mr Collier told The Irish Times: “[Mr Cannon’s] office and my office will be working over the months ahead to work towards an agreement that would assist Irish migrants to come to Australia and make it a much more seamless process.”
Any such agreement would need to be cleared by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
But the Federal Government has played down any contact on a national government-to-government level. A source told the Irish Echo that the Federal Government has not engaged in such dialogue.
Almost 900 people turned up to a seminar about working in Western Australia held in Dublin’s Citywest Hotel on July 14. Approximately 3,000 had registered for an invitation to the event and 1,108 people were selected.
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