New colleges not enough to quell Aussie labour crisis

THE Federal Government has promised to develop 100 extra technical colleges throughout Australia over the next 10 years, but the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies says that is only part of the skills shortage solution, according to a report.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has promised to spend A$2 billion on the colleges, with the Federal Government funding the development of 70 colleges, while another 30 would be offered to independent schools and state governments to run, the report said.

AMEC policy and public affairs manager Ian Loftus acknowledged the colleges would help train more trades people, but said the issue stretched beyond education and training to areas of industrial relations and skilled immigration.

"So whilst we see any additional technical colleges as being good they can only ever be part of the solution to what is a very, very complicated problem," he said.

Loftus said there should be more focus on flexible immigration requirements, which would allow skilled workers to fill the gaps in the mining industry.

"And, secondly, allowing particularly developing countries to have workers in Australia being up-skilled… But it is a very complicated issue. I don’t think there is a simple answer," he added.

The first 19 of the 100 colleges are expected to be up and running by 2010.