Australia is looking at recruiting American workforce to solve the acute shortage of skilled labor in the country's civil engineering sector.

Australia has been facing severe workforce crunch, but the relatively good economic growth has further increased the demand for workers.

The country will need 1.3 million extra workers over the next five years, says the Australian employment department's industry projections. Of these, 200,000 positions are expected to be vacant in the construction sector and another 320,000 in the healthcare and social assistance sectors.  

Australia had so far depended on India and Europe for skilled workers, but is now planning to tap the US workforce. It has now announced amends to the points based skilled migration visa program and this is expected to help skilled workers from the US to get Australian work visas without hassles.

Under current regulations, US workers need to be assessed onshore, which results in a delay of months in their recruitment process. New measures will enable offshore assessment of the US employees, speeding up the process.

While the government's first priority is to train Australians for jobs in the resources and construction sectors, projections show that we will need workers from overseas for a peak in activity in the next three to five years, said Australia's Skills Minister Chris Evans, in a statement.

This is a great opportunity to address skill shortages in Australia by filling shortfalls in particular areas with qualified candidates from the US, with applications expected to open from mid-April, he added, according to theage.com report.

Australia will organize a skills expo at Houston in Texas on May 19 and 20, for the first time, to tap US workers, according to a Reuters report.

Various industry and business groups in Australia have also welcomed the government's decision to change recruitment regulations.

There are clearly opportunities in Australia for skilled US citizens seeking work and in contrast to the surplus of skilled workers in the US, Australia has intensifying skill shortages and comparatively low unemployment, the industry groups, including the Australian industry group and the Business Council of Australia, said in a joint statement.

However, unions are skeptical of the government's move and has said that the claims of skill shortage needs to be investigated, before implementing the new changes.

In the last two years, employment has grown 2 percent per annum in the country and the rate of unemployment stood between 5.2 to 5.8 percent in the past three years despite the global economic crisis. Whereas the current rate of employment is 8.3 percent in the US.

Australia has a high migrant population and an approximate 25 percent of the entire work force comprises overseas-born employees, and 10 percent of the US employees belong to that category, according to a migration expert.com report.