COUNTRY business are rolling out the welcome mat for new workers to fill thousands of job vacancies in regional and rural Victoria.
Federal government data shows almost 6000 regional and rural jobs were advertised online in August, with monthly vacancies consistently above 5100 this year.
Among them were postings for chief executives, engineers, corporate managers, teachers, doctors, veterinarians, labourers and farmers.
Bendigo and the High Country recorded the highest number of vacancies, 1700, followed by Gippsland with more than 1200.
With regional Victoria’s unemployment rate now lower than in Melbourne, businesses are calling for new residents to fill jobs.
Mildura, on the Victorian-NSW border, has listings for a pharmacist, baker, cabinet maker, nurse and senior banking consultant among dozens of other jobs.
Chemist Warehouse Mildura has previously been forced to hire international workers on visas to plug critical staff shortages.
Managing partner Eric Oguzkaya said Mildura’s remote location – more than four hours’ drive from Adelaide and six from Melbourne – and a lack of public transport deterred people looking to relocate.
The community is campaigning for a return of passenger rail with the last train having left the station more than two decades ago.
“If it wasn’t for the international students we would have been in diabolic trouble,” Mr Oguzkaya said.
“They have saved us over the years but they may stay for a year or two and then they head to the city. We want to hire people who make Mildura their home.
“It’s a beautiful place – we have more sunshine than the Gold Coast, the people are down to earth and I can’t imagine anywhere nicer to raise a family.”
Like Mildura, the jobs market in Ararat, 200km northwest of Melbourne, is booming with the expansion of an abattoir, Hopkins prison and wiring harness manufacturer AME Systems.
The growth has put pressure on housing and transport, forcing AME to consider running a bus to pick up employees from surrounding towns and Ballarat.
Trains currently run from Ararat to Ballarat in the morning peak but not in the other direction.
AME System’s Steve Rodis said the business would “struggle” if it couldn’t attract more staff to grow its 250-strong workforce.
He said Ararat offered more than just a job for prospective new residents.
“Housing is more affordable, you get fresh air, you are working at the foot of the Grampians, there is a lot of wineries and cafes,” he said.
“People might think we are a small business in a country town but we are world class.
“If you want a job, come to Ararat. There’s plenty of opportunity for those who want it.”
Portland is also promoting its jobs and lifestyle with an app that lists vacancies, housing options, schools, events and attractions to be launched on October 11.
“It’s a one-stop shop for anyone who is visiting or looking to move,” Glenelg mayor Anita Rank said.
“It’s the most wonderful lifestyle in Portland and that’s the biggest drawcard to get people out of Melbourne and into jobs here.”