Former US Marine Deandre Simmons is keen to work in WA. Picture: Trevor Collens
Former US Marine Deandre Simmons is keen to work in WA. Picture: Trevor Collens

Hundreds of US army veterans and skilled workers have inundated a Perth maintenance contractor at a huge Detroit job expo this week.

They plied the business with applications, in the hope of migrating to WA and grabbing their share of the mining boom.

US heavy diesel mechanics, electricians and boilermaker welders were targeted as part of the Federal Government's push to get qualified US workers to apply for 457 temporary work visas and help plug the skills shortage in the resources sector.

Perth maintenance contractor Flex Force Maintenance Solutions, which supplies skilled staff to Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, were the only local non-government organisation with a booth at the expo and received hundreds of resumes.

In the Pilbara and Mid West, about 41,000 extra workers will be needed for planned projects.

Up to 9000 people flocked to the four-day expo in Detroit this week that was aimed at assisting war veterans find employment. Australian exhibitors promoted the high wages and lifestyle on offer in the mining industry.

US ambassador to Australia Jeffrey Bleich said the economies of the two nations could complement each other, with the US continuing its economic recovery while Australia undergoes a mining and energy boom.

Flex Force Maintenance Solutions managing director Hossam Boksmati, who opened an office in Atlanta seven months ago in a bid to attract US workers, said the expo was an ideal opportunity to directly target skilled staff.

Mr Boksmati said the labour shortage had created a "crazy" and difficult environment where workers change roles for as little as 50ยข an hour difference in pay.

"Getting qualified and skilled people has been tough," Mr Boksmati said. "We've spent a lot of time and money on training and we've got a large number of apprentices in our organisation.

"But we're just trying to top it up where we can and we haven't left any stone unturned to find people."

The number of people in Australia with 457 visas at the end of April was 90,400, a record high.

The West Australian

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