Almost 900 job vacancies lined the walls of the Warrnambool Jobs Fair on Friday, highlighting the high demand for workers across the south-west.
The vacancies, advertised by the 36 national and locally-based exhibitors, are just a snapshot of the countless positions available across the region, which like other areas, is facing severe staff shortages.
There were also more than 200 apprenticeships and traineeships on offer at the Workforce Australia event at the Warrnambool Stadium.
Exhibitor Logical Property Services owners Kerry and Chris Brown said they couldn't apply for new contracts as they didn't have the people to staff them.
"We're in a tough spot," Mrs Brown said. "We're just like everyone else. We can't take on any other contracts or work because we can't get staff."
The company, which includes cleaning, gardening and maintenance among its services, employs 200 people across the region from Geelong to Portland. "It's generic no matter what town you're in," Mrs Brown said.
She said the fair's informal nature helped people make contact with various employers. "We came to meet and greet and canvas as many people as we can," she said. "To get our name out there and to try and make it easier for people with anxiety issues and things like that.
"Particularly those 20 year olds who have been stuck in COVID lockdowns all this time. It's made it hard. They don't like meet and greets and don't want an interview, so walking past is a lot easier."
She said the shortage meant companies across the region were in competition as they all tried desperately to recruit.
"There's a lot of companies or people paying cash and that puts our back to the wall," she said. "We can't do that and we won't do that and it makes it hard. We can't compete with that."
Mrs Brown said the difficulty finding staff limited any expansion. "There's some contracts coming up shortly and we're not putting our hands up because we can't staff them."
She said there were some positives to come out of the fair. "We've had great success," she said. "I think we'll be hiring four people from today from Warrnambool, and if we could get some Portland people we need another four there," she said.
Mercy Health recruitment lead Nandi Adams and integration operations manager Gurpreet Kaur were impressed by the quality candidates they met.
"We're looking for each and every role but more personal care assistants, food services assistants, nurses both RNs and ENs and cleaners," Mrs Kaur said. "There's a big variety."
She said over the past 12 to 18 months they'd struggled to find staff, like every other industry.
"We're still struggling but I think it's because there's so many jobs available," Ms Kaur said. "I think the process of getting them on board has to be much more efficient or quicker because there's so many options available."
Mrs Adams said as a result, potential employees could be more discerning.
"It's good for candidates because they've got a choice and maybe they'll end up in something they really want to do, as opposed to just taking whatever is available," Mrs Adams said.
"I think we'll see the fruit of that later on, people being in jobs they want to be in."
Local Jobs Program South West Victoria facilitator Angela Hewett said exhibitors represented growth areas including agriculture, forestry and fishing, manufacturing, healthcare and social assistance, education and training, retail, trade and hospitality and tourism.
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but there was some positives to come out of the fa
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