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US worker plan finds appeal in Pilbara
US worker plan finds appeal in Pilbara

Plans to lure Americans to Australia to plug labour shortages have been welcomed by Pilbara businesses, which face a shortfall of 34,000 workers as the resources boom heats up.

But Karratha's Chamber of Commerce and Industry said it was concerned that taking more foreign workers could reduce training opportunities for Australians.

US combat veterans and workers with qualifications recognised in Australia would be the targets of a Federal Government program to fill vacancies. It plans to hold a skills expo in the US for the first time.

Karratha CCI chief executive John Lally said the Pilbara was so short of skilled workers it had to look overseas. But he warned local training should not be neglected.

US Consulate deputy economic counsellor Ramon Negron, who devised the scheme to import Americans, said Australia was a perfect cultural match and many Americans would be interested in the plan, particularly those leaving the military.

It could involve thousands of troops leaving Afghanistan. Skills could be identified and gap training designed to adapt military specialities.

Josh Yoder, 28, from Pennsylvania, moved to Perth in June 2010 on a transfer from Afghanistan with US engineering company Fluor. He jumped at the move because there were scant jobs in the US.

Mr Yoder's brother Nathan, 24, followed him to WA a year ago.

"In Australia, people respect the work life balance more," Josh said. <div class="endnote">

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