Today, peak Australian electrical industry body, the National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA), said it had not been consulted by the Australian Government on their plans to assess electricians in the United States on their suitability to obtain an Australian licence to assist in addressing skill shortages in the industry.
NECA understands from media reporting today that the Australian Government is planning to implement measures that include the assessment of electricians in the United States to speed up the arrival of skilled workers.
NECA’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr James Tinslay, said the electrical industry would need convincing that any program to assess electricians overseas on their suitability for an Australian licence and their suitability for working in Australian conditions has very strong control measures in place.
“NECA represents electrical contractors across Australia and it is these contractors who would eventually employ electricians from the United States so it is surprising that we have not been consulted on plans to assess their suitability for work in Australia,” Mr Tinslay said.
“Employers in our industry would need to be satisfied that a robust assessment process has been developed to assess electricians in the United States or any other country for that matter before they agreed to employ a worker from overseas that has been granted an Australian licence under a new government program.”
“Extra consideration needs to be given to this issue because the electrical industry is one of the first to attempt an implementation of a national licence that is meant to commence on 1 July 2012.”
NECA welcomes any program that aims to address skill shortages but believes closer consultation is key in implementing programs that are workable for the industry.
The Australian electrical licensing system is very stringent and this is reflected in the high levels of electrical safety in Australia. New workers in the industry need to be very well tested on the Australian system and be realistic about where the shortage in skills exists.
“Australia’s wiring and electrical standards vary markedly from many parts of the world including the United States. Although electricians from the US also have high electrical safety standards, they need to study and be assessed against the relevant Australian standards.
“This process may take up to twelve months during which time they may be able to access a provisional licence but this means they would not be able to undertake electrical work without constant supervision of a licensed electrician.
“Skill shortages are real in North Queensland and in Western Australia, particularly in mining areas. The position on the east coast is such that there is currently a good match of jobs to the required labour,” Mr Tinslay said.
NECA calls on the Government to discuss this program with the electrical industry before it is rolled out.
National Electrical and Communications Association - NECA
NECA is the peak industry body representing the interests of electrical and communications contractors Australia-wide.
Dominic Feenan - Media and Communications Manager
P: 02 9439 8523
M: 0457 767 328