Seeking skills from overseas

The Great South Coast region of Victoria, has secured a five-year agreement between Warrnambool City Council and the Commonwealth which will help employers address local skill shortages in key industries.

As part of the Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) – one of the first to be signed in Australia – employers in the region experiencing skills and labour shortages will be able to sponsor skilled and semi-skilled overseas workers, focusing initially on Warrnambool.

Chair of the Great South Coast Group and Southern Grampians Shire Mayor, Mary-Ann Brown, said the region was experiencing a local workforce shortage due to slow population growth, low local unemployment and an ageing population.

Mayor of Warrnambool City Council, Tony Herbert, leader of the initiative, said,

“This agreement will enable Great South Coast employers in the agriculture and hospitality sectors, as well as other businesses, to fill critical employment gaps.

“Employers will be able to access a broader range of overseas skilled and semi-skilled workers than is currently available through the standard skilled migration programs.

“It is estimated more than 1000 jobs are available in the region, with as many as 600 vacancies reported in the food processing and dairy farming sectors alone.’’

Mayor Herbert said the agreement was a coup for the region and acknowledged the outstanding efforts of Warrnambool City Council.

Mayor Brown concluded that the region would look to fill jobs with Australian workers, but where they were not available the agreement would help industries fill the gaps.

The Great South Coast Regional Alliance includes Council and community leaders from across the region and councils including Corangamite, Glenelg, Moyne, Warrnambool and Southern Grampians.