Mining and energy companies are hiring labour well before needed in an attempt to stave off effects of expected future skills shortages later in the year.


The move by large commodity companies is stoking fears that inflation rates may rise as spending increases and productivity stagnates. The mining and resources sector, with access to significantly higher wage payments, will likely draw labour away from commercial construction and other areas that are require engineering and construction labour.


Fears of a two-speed ‘patchwork’ economy are likely to grow as labour is drawn away from the eastern states by promises of significantly higher wages in the resource states.


Large infrastructure projects, such as Queensland’s Gladstone Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) project and major works in Western Australia are requiring up to 9,000 skilled workers as both states are set to experience a boom in labour demand. Up to 300,000 skilled workers will be required in Western Australia and Queensland.


The premature hiring by companies in Queensland and Western Australia is considered a major contribution to the significant drops in productivity, with labour research showing a drop of 1.8 per cent in gross domestic productivity in the 2011 March quarter.


The revelation comes as the Queensland State Government voiced its confidence of a return to strong economic form after the spate of natural disasters completely halted economic growth in the 2010-11 period.