ASYLUM seekers will move to Colac to fill job shortages, as part of a new pilot program.
The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre will help fill a labour shortage at Colac lamb processor CRF with up to four asylum seekers in coming months.
The asylum seekers will come from countries such as Iran, Afghanistan or Sri Lanka.
The centre’s Gavin Ackerly said asylum seekers were an “untapped workforce”.
“We hear a lot that regional Victoria has a skills or labour shortage in certain areas and we’ve got the guys who can fill it,” he said.
Mr Ackerly said asylum seekers had skills and trades that could contribute to the Colac community.
“Even though the image may be that they are a ramshackle bunch of people on boats, that’s not true,” he said.
CQ Recruitment’s Paul McCallum said the agency had filled as many of CRF’s jobs as possible with Colac and district workers before placing asylum seekers in jobs to help cover the shortage.
Mr McCallum said filling empty jobs with asylum seekers was a “positive program” and a way to source long-term workers.
“The asylum seekers are just one avenue that we are looking at,” he said.
“We would imagine it might well be an ongoing opportunity for both them, Colac and industry here.
“It only works when it’s a win-win for everyone.”
Otway Community College chief Jan Healey said the college had previously helped asylum seekers integrate into the Colac and district workforce and community.
“By coming here they’re able to get employment,” she said.
CRF has previously turned to refugees to fill labour shortages.
The company began hiring Sudanese refugees in 2002, employing about 20 men in the first two years.