A SKILLED migration program responsible for bringing extra doctors and farm managers to the south-west has failed to win widespread local government support, with just Warrnambool City Council offering to front the cash needed to keep the scheme going.
The state government pulled the funds of the program earlier this year, leaving Warrnambool City Council the chief financier as it called on other Great South Coast councils to help contribute.
But Moyne and Glenelg shires have both opted out, while Corangamite is yet to decide.
Warrnambool pays the biggest slice of funding at $60,000 but was seeking smaller contributions.
Moyne Shire had been asked to provide $15,000 annually.
Warrnambool mayor Michael Neoh said there was support from Southern Grampians Shire, which would be offered placements under a fee plan next year.
“We’ll be facilitating the service by ourselves,” Cr Neoh said.
“I don’t think that it would be fair for us to fund the others using our ratepayers’ money.”
More than 239 skilled migrants have been placed in jobs across the region during the past five years, with a particular focus on health, agriculture and hospitality.
Great South Coast skilled migration project manager Phil Hoggan said demand among employers was still strong for overseas labour and expertise.
Mr Hoggan, who returned from holidays yesterday, found a long list of emails and messages inquiring about work in the south-west.
“There’s always inquiries,” Mr Hoggan said.
“The backlog is quite significant.
“Among it were two doctors and three registered nurses.”
He said the scheme immediately addressed problems.
“There’s always a lag between a skills shortage and meeting a skills shortage.”
Cr Neoh said many GPs were reaching retirement age and had not established succession plans for their businesses.
Mr Hoggan said Warrnam-bool City Council also helped run additional visa programs, including schemes for employers to find or nominate staff themselves.
Economic turmoil in Ireland was also leading to burgeoning interest from young people seeking working holiday visas, Mr Hoggan said.