Fortescue’s Andrew Forrest calls on miners to train indigenous Australians

Australia’s richest man, Andrew Forrest says miners should train indigenous people rather than bring in foreign workers for mining projects.

The Fortescue Metals Group chairman told The Australian his “heart bleeds” when indigenous Australians are overlooked for jobs filled by workers from overseas.

Without mentioning any particular companies, Forrest said he hoped other miners would reconsider their enthusiasm for temporary skilled migrants.

“I would say to people who look to 457 (visas): first recognise that Australia has changed, and you must change with it and look first to your indigenous brothers and sisters to fill those jobs.”

Speaking at a breakfast in Perth, the mining billionaire said over 10,000 indigenous Australians had been employed through his Australian employment covenant established in 2008.

Forrest accused the Gillard Government of “stalling and procrastinating” after it agreed to only fund a study of his plan for new centres to train Aborigines for specific jobs.

The Perth-based mining magnate has called for the opening of 25 vocational training centres where training is delivered only for a guaranteed job.

“Taxpayers have got every right to demand that training will only be funded by government if there is a guaranteed job at the end of the training, but that’s not occurring and billions of taxpayer’s dollars continue to be wasted as a result,” Forrest told the Australian.

The number of foreign workers coming into Australia reached 90,000 last year.

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