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Working in Perth

Working in Perth offers lots of chances for qualified expats like you. Western Australia’s largest metro area has a growing demand for overseas labor. Our guide to working in Perth provides an economic profile, tips for job hunting, and useful hints on networking and local working conditions.
Perth is the local powerhouse of Western Australia’s economy.
  • Despite the mining boom coming to an end, Western Australia’s economy has shown to be resilient by broadening the service sector.
  • The supply of available jobs in education, retail, healthcare, and social services is growing as Perth’s population increases.
  • Australia does not recognize diplomas from every institution; expats need to make sure they have the proper qualifications in order to look for a job in Perth.

A Transforming Economy

Working in Perth can be a prime career opportunity for the international professional. The economy of Western Australia is prospering. However, expats who consider working in Perth or Western Australia should be aware that the territory is going through an economic transformation, which will significantly impact the types of occupations available.

The exponential growth in the territory over the last few years is derived from the Asian investment in, and the construction of, the mining industry. However, the construction and mining boom is now over and the government faces the challenge of softening the transition from a construction economy to a less prosperous production economy.

Moreover, iron ore, one of Western Australia’s major exports, has plummeted on the international market, its price dropping by 50 percent in 2015 alone. This has had a severely negative impact on the local economy of Western Australia, and has resulted in a sharp decrease of the state’s economic growth. As a result, Western Australia lost the title of Australia's strongest economy in 2015, as it was surpassed by New South Wales.

Nonetheless, expats considering applying for a visa and working in Perth should not fear. As experts say, if exports and imports were considered in the economic growth calculation, Western Australia would still have remained the most prosperous state. Hence, Western Australia will still stay relatively stable and could regain its place as the country’s leading economy within a few years. 

Agriculture, Mining, Manufacturing

While much most of Perth’s and Western Australia’s economic success was once at one time based on agriculture, forestry, and fishing, agriculture is now rather detracting from the Gross State Product.

Although the agriculture industry is declining, Australian farmers still provide 93 percent of Australia’s food. Western Australia is the nation’s biggest grain producing state, as well as being a significant producer of meat and livestock, wine, honey, seafood, horticulture, dairy, and wool.  More than 80 percent of the state’s agricultural production is exported, mostly to Asia. While there may not be a lot of opportunities for skilled expats in the agriculture sector, it still supplies over 30,000 jobs to Western Australians.

In Western Australia, a large amount of people are employed in the mining industry.  Of course, working in Perth’s mining industry is no longer the same as in the historical 1890s, when the city served as the gateway to the goldfields of the Australian west. Western Australia still possesses resources like gold, iron ore, diamonds, nickel, bauxite, crude oil, and natural gas.

Although the mining industry has many job opportunities, there are far fewer positions available in the mining and construction industries in 2016 than there were in 2011. Despite the fact that these two industries are not as profitable as they used to be, the Australian government still projects a substantial amount of growth to occur over the next five years.  Hence, there is still a need for qualified workers in the mining and construction industries in Western Australia.

While the manufacturing sector does not play a huge role for Western Australia in general, there is an industrial region around Kwinana, in the metropolitan area south of the capital, which could be of interest for expatriates. Taking up employment in Kwinana mostly translates to working in the heavy or petrochemical industries, metal processing or fabrication, support industries associated with the mining sector, or in the shipyards of the port. The growing service sector of the metro region, on the other hand, attracts far more people and presents a lot more opportunities for finding work in Perth. 

The Service Sector and Future Job Prospects

At the moment, Western Australia’s service industry is exceptionally favorable for skilled expats. Whereas there are few job openings in IT, media, and arts, expats-to-be should keep an eye on education, retail, as well as healthcare and social services. These fields constantly require staff to address the increasing demands of Western Australia’s growing population, and those qualified in these areas could have a relatively easy time securing a work visa, due to the lack of qualified workers in the industry.

Another option to consider is Perth’s tourism industry. In 2016, over 874,000 international tourists visited Western Australia. This number is expected to grow substantially over the following years, because the city of Perth is planning on using more of its assets, beaches, and scenery to promote tourism. 

Unsurprisingly, overseas migration is thus a major driver in regional demographic growth. In 2013, 63% of the annual population growth was attributed to foreign residents settling there. They, in turn, will require even more people working in the state to cater to their needs.

All in all, official reports are fairly positive as far as the state’s economic future is concerned. Although In May 2016, the unemployment rate of Western Australia rose to 5.7%, it was still a bit lower than the national average of 5.8%.

If you have the chance to start working in Perth, you should probably take it. One piece of information that may help you decide to work in Perth is that Western Australia is better prepared to weather a financial crisis that might come to haunt the EU or the USA. Thus, moving to Perth may keep you on the safe side of the global economy.



We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Harald Waibl

"After I moved to Australia, InterNations helped me connect with some compatriots in Perth and thus start enjoying the expat way of life. "

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