Kalgoorlie is a town desperate for workers to move there and begin to call it home. But would you move there if the government paid you?
With 1000 jobs on offer and operations continuing to ramp up, Kalgoorlie is a town desperate for workers to move there and begin to call it home.
A range of efforts is underway to draw people to the regional mining hub, with much of the work from mining and allied industries focused on promoting job opportunities and the town as a whole.
But what if the government paid you to move there?
In the Northern Territory that’s exactly what the government is doing. Faced with a skills shortage, it is offering financial incentives of up to $15,000 for people willing to relocate to the territory to take up “high-priority” occupations.
Part of a wider 10-year population growth strategy, which includes a plan to add 21,000 jobs, the payments are a way to help with living and relocation costs Chief Minister Michael Gunner said.
Would money draw people to Kalgoorlie?
Would a similar scheme work for Kalgoorlie? The answer is yes and no.
Mining People International Senior Consultant Candidate Services and HR Consulting, Gail Rogers, said the fact that a place such as Kalgoorlie cannot attract skilled and professional people is complex.
“Offering financial incentives would assist, but there are numerous other strategies that would also assist, such as lowering government surcharges in these areas or changing the zone rebate to include towns like Kalgoorlie,” she said.
Ms Rogers said while the cost of living in Kalgoorlie is higher than in Perth, there are other benefits to be gained.
FURTHER READING: Do I move my family to take up a residential mining job?
MPi Managing Consultant Workforce Kalgoorlie, Kylie Nunweek, said a mining job in itself has long been the biggest draw to Kalgoorlie – whether it be an entry-level opportunity or a better lifestyle balance for experienced miners who want to swap FIFO life for coming home after each shift.
“What most people don’t realise is that Kalgoorlie has far more to offer than just mining,” she said. “The town is built for families.”
In the NT, new residents receive an immediate payment of up to $7000 for a family as well as a one-off $1250 “local benefit” bonus to spend in the first two years and an extra cash bonus if they stay continuously for five years.
The job should be enough
Kalgoorlie-Boulder Mining Innovation Hub Director Sabina Shugg said a well-paid job should be all the financial incentive needed and government payments are unnecessary.
“There are well-paid jobs on offer, so I don’t think we need to go down that path,” she said. “Regional areas that do need to don’t necessarily have the same pay structures.”
What is clear, though, is that if Australia is to remain economically competitive, then attracting skilled people to regional areas needs to be a focus of all levels of government, with Kalgoorlie no exception.
“The current situation where there are over a thousand vacant roles in a town of 30,000 is not sustainable,” Ms Rogers said.
“There are more operations to be opened, and the skills shortage will only get worse. Employers can only do so much, and if history repeats itself they will compete on pay rates, which is a strategy that works for a large multinational, but not so well for the mechanical service business with three to four people.”
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