There's not a lack of applicants - there's no one.- Bojangles owner Simon Mugavin
A number of Warrnambool business owners are desperate to find staff with some turning to Melbourne-based job agencies.
Bojangles restaurant owner Simon Mugavin said he hadn't had difficulty in nearly four decades finding employees - until now.
"It's beyond tough," Mr Mugavin said.
He said he was seeking a pizza chef, wait staff, delivery drivers and dishwashers.
"There's not a lack of applicants - there's no one," Mr Mugavin said.
He said an ad on Facebook calling for staff to join the team had more than 5000 likes but no applicants.
"We honestly believed that after the school holidays there would be a lot of students to fill these roles, but there's no one," Mr Mugavin said.
He said a few years back he would always have a number of resumes from people looking for work.
Mr Mugavin said there were many employers who were desperate to find staff.
He said some of the roles would be perfect for someone wanting to make money after school or for someone wanting to make some extra cash as a delivery driver.
"They drive our cars, use our petrol and get a good hourly rate - it's a good job," Mr Mugavin said.
"All we need is a good attitude and we can do the rest."
Westvic Staffing Solutions chief executive officer Dean Luciani said staff shortages were an issue being experienced by employers right across the state.
He said it was further exacerbated in Warrnambool, which already had a low unemployment rate.
"It's not only Warrnambool - the entire country has record levels of unemployment," he said.
"This has been a trend that has probably been building for over 12 months.
"There would be very few - if any - industries that haven't got open vacancies. It's a supply and demand issue."
Mr Luciani said he believed there was also a period of re-engagement within the tourism and hospitality industries.
"We've seen a lot of people displaced in tourism and hospitality in the past two years and I think what we're seeing is the beginning of a re-engagement period," he said.
Mr Luciani said employees were spoilt for choice, which meant some were choosing full-time or permanent work over casual positions.
"The small pool we do have can pick and choose a bit more," he said.
On Wednesday, 12 Liebig Street businesses had signs in their windows advertising for staff.
The roles were varied from an assistant store manager for Bed Bath 'N Table to retail staff members at Faull's Shoes and House and positions at a number of eateries.
At Gateway Plaza almost a third of the stores had staff vacancy notices in their windows.
These included Katies, Wendy's, The Reject Shop, Chemist Warehouse, Coles, Sanity and KRPO Nails, while the centre will soon be home to a new outlet - Your Regional Butcher - which is also seeking staff.
A search for Warrnambool jobs on online employment website Seek brings up more than 300 jobs, with many takeaway outlets including Hungry Jack's, McDonald's, KFC and Red Rooster all seeking staff.
Farm hands, cleaners and chefs are also in high demand.
In December, the owner of Le Crepe Man of Belfast in Port Fairy - Mark Price - said he had reduced his opening hours to five days a week due to staffing issues.
He told The Standard this week he had not increased his opening hours.
Mr Price said he believed a large number of businesses in Port Fairy were struggling to fill vacancies.
The revelation about the high number of job vacancies in Warrnambool comes after The Standard reported on shortages in a number of industries.
Early last year Unisex Cuts owner Sue Cassidy said she was struggling to find qualified hairdressers, while the owner of Cobb's Bakery said he had been struggling to fill staff roles for months.
In early 2022, Callaghan Motors dealer principal Steve Callaghan said he had been actively recruiting for sales staff and technicians for at least the past six months.
Lyndoch Living has also been affected by skills shortages, while Rafferty's Tavern owner Mark McIlroy offered a cash bonus in a bid to attract staff.
A state government spokesman said the $250 million Jobs Victoria Fund was supporting businesses with wage subsidies and large-scale employment programs.
"We recently announced $34.2 million for Jobs Victoria to place more than 1500 people in jobs in industries facing staff shortages, right across the state - including in warehousing, logistics and tourism and food processing," the spokesman said.
"This will also create a pool of 500 skilled workers that can be access by short-staffed hospitality businesses."
Great Ocean Road Tourism chief executive officer Liz Price said many business owners had been experiencing staff shortages for the past few years.
She said a new campaign -Tourism Jobs Bank - would help businesses recruit staff through a professional recruitment company.
"The aim is to try and uncover the hidden labour market to support employers recruiting, especially over the summer peak," Ms Price said.
"The hidden labour market may be retired or semi retired people that may have additional capacity to work over the summer, young people looking for a summer or part-time job or even people that may have had a difficult year that are looking to earn some extra cash."
Ms Price said there was a huge need for the program.
Ms Price said a number of business owners across the state had been severely affected by staff shortages.
"We have seen a number of businesses reduce their operating hours and or reduce their offering to manage with fewer staff," she said.
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