Childcare worker applications lead the way in Pilbara Designated Area Migration Agreement

Alexander ScottPilbara News
Regional Development Australia Pilbara chief executive Tony Simpson.
Camera IconRegional Development Australia Pilbara chief executive Tony Simpson. Credit: Cheyanne Enciso/Pilbara News/RegionalHUB

Six months into the Pilbara Designated Area Migration Agreement, new figures have revealed childcare workers are among the most sought-after employees in the region.

The agreement — a five-year project between the Federal Government and Regional Development Australia in partnership with the City of Karratha and Town of Port Hedland — was launched on May 9 and allows employers to sponsor skilled and semi-skilled overseas workers for positions they are unable to fill with the local workforce.

It covers 66 occupations, including trades and machinery operation, engineers and trades to support the resource industries, as well as key service occupations including aged and childcare and health services.

Since its launch, Regional Development Australia has received applications from 35 businesses for 144 roles.

Speaking to Pilbara News, RDA Pilbara chief executive Tony Simpson said childcare workers had been among the most sought after.

“Childcare workers are the ones where you see a large number and that’s a reflection on the difficulty of trying to attract and retain childcare workers in the Pilbara where job opportunities are strong,” he said.

Mr Simpson said childcare services in the region suffered from high staff turnover.

“It’s really interesting that they’re some of the most sought-after workers in our communities but we pay them so little,” he said.

Aside from childcare workers, crane operators, metal fabricators and retail supervisors were also highly sought-after.

“In a nutshell, what the City of Karratha and Town of Port Hedland want to do is make sure we give businesses an opportunity to gain skilled staff from overseas,” Mr Simpson said.

While there had not been any labour agreements formalised, Mr Simpson said there were several businesses that were in the final stages and he was excited to see overseas families settle in the Pilbara.

“There’s a pathway to permanent residency through the DAMA,” he said.

“After a few years the workers can apply for residency, that’s the beauty of this agreement — it’s the hook that gets them in the role and hopefully they want to stay forever.”

Get the latest news from in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails