Thousands of US workers have applied for Australian construction and mining jobs in a new international recruitment process offering temporary US workers a chance to share in the local mining boom.
More than 2000 skilled workers, including former war veterans, applied for 700 mostly WA and Queensland jobs at the first Skills Australia Needs recruitment expo in Houston, Texas, recently.
The scheme enables US workers to be assessed for jobs offshore instead of in Australia, which eliminates long waiting periods.
US Ambassador to Australia Jeffrey Bleich said the first job fair was a huge success and there would be more around the US in coming months.
Mr Bleich was in Perth yesterday at the launch of CBH Group's first dedicated grain rail fleet to arrive in WA in more than 30 years.
"Instead of having people deciding to come out here first then get their skills assessed and then maybe find they wasted the trip, they'll be assessed back in the US and then they can come out here and hit the ground running," he said.
"The nice thing about Americans is we like to do a good job and do our best but we go home afterwards so we won't be taking away any jobs for Australians, we'll just keep the momentum going for the boom.
"The one group in particular they're calling out to is skilled veterans because many of them are used to being away from their families for a period of time working in remote locations and are good at the work that they do."
A national salary survey to be released today by the Australian Institute of Management reveals more than half of big companies in Australia reported difficulties recruiting staff because of skills shortages, with 51 per cent saying they already employed overseas workers to fill the gaps.
More than two-thirds of big companies surveyed indicated they would consider hiring staff from overseas to counteract skills shortages.
AIM head of research Matt Drinan said the spotlight was often on the worker shortage in the mining industry but employers felt the shortage across a broad range of industries nationally.