Programmed sees no labour shortage
Programmed sees no labour shortage

Programmed Maintenance Services, a company that has tripled its profit by providing staff and services to booming mining industry, says it has no trouble finding Australian workers for resources projects.

Chief executive Chris Sutherland said Programmed recently received 3600 applications from Australians for 80 plant operators jobs with WA focused iron ore miner Fortescue Metals, paying about $100,000 a year.

"I can't talk for other companies, I just know that at present I think we can fill all the current requirements," he said in a teleconference, referring to labour demand.

"When it comes to blue-collar workers, our experience is that if someone has a real job we are very confident we will find the person to do that job, particularly if there can be some job specific training given ... if there is three, six to 12 months' planning for that recruitment."

Programmed posted a net profit of $31.2 million in the year to March 31, up from $10.4 million in the previous year.

Mr Sutherland said Programmed's resources division was the main driver of profit growth, with earnings up 98 per cent from the previous corresponding period.

The staffing, maintenance and project services provider is one of many companies profiting by providing services to miners and oil and gas companies and expects modest earnings growth in the year ahead.

Mr Sutherland said 457 (short-term) foreign worker visas were suited to more specialist skills, such as shipmasters for offshore projects or chief engineers, where there might be genuine shortages and that it could take a decade to complete training.

The federal government caused a furore this week saying it will allow multi-billionaire Gina Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting to import up to 1715 foreign guest workers for her Roy Hill iron ore mine in WA.

By contrast to the booming resources division, Programmed's workforce unit, which supplies staff to all business sectors, increased its earnings in the year by just by 1.8 per cent.

There was revenue growth in the property and infrastructure division - through government infrastructure work - but the division that provides electrical, painting and repairs, reported a 15 per cent drop in earnings.

"While the external business environment remains challenging and demand from some sectors has weakened, we continue to expand our operations with a focus on markets where economic activity is growing," Mr Sutherland said.

"Overall, the group projects moderate growth in earnings for fiscal year 2013."

The performance of the resources division benefited from exposure to offshore oil and gas projects, such as the Gorgon pipelay project in Australia's northwest.

Patersons equities research analyst George Galanopoulos retained a BUY recommendation, saying he was impressed with the business being increasingly leveraged to high-growth sectors.

The company declared a fully franked final dividend of eight cents per share, up from six cents in the previous corresponding period.

Shares were up nine cents, or 3.91 per cent, to $2.39 at 12.20pm.

The West Australian

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