14 Jul 2021

Overseas interest big to fill 50 veterinary places, but MIQ a challenge

2:51 pm on 14 July 2021

The New Zealand Veterinary Association says it has had plenty of interest from vets overseas wanting to come here to fill the labour shortage.

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Last month the government announced 50 general practice vets would be allowed to enter the country with a border exception, provided they had two-to-three years experience and were earning at least $85,000 a year.

Association chief executive Kevin Bryant said they had a good process in place with The Ministry of Primary Industries and Immigration to process the visas.

"We have our first 10 people at various stages of getting the visas approved and attached to those 10 people, we've got three spouses and three dependents.

"We've got all these people in the pipeline. But we've got a process where every week we submit names through to MPI, and then on to immigration, so it's just as people complete the the criteria that are required to get into their immigration visa process. So we will have the whole 50 eventually going through the system, but obviously not all at once."

The applicants are coming from the UK, Australia, South Africa and the US, but they're struggling to get spaces in MIQ, which is booked up for the next few months.

"Like everyone at the time these 50 were approved, we didn't know that MIQ was full until Christmas. So that's a challenge.

"What we're hopeful of being able to negotiate with MIQ is that we have small numbers coming in, it's not like 50 people coming in at one hit. We've got small numbers of people coming in that we should be able to get some places released for those people," Bryant said.

He said when the 50 vets do arrive in the country they will go a long way to help the sector, which was very understaffed.

"We've got situations where we've got veterinarians burning out we've got client's having to wait longer than they normally have to wait to see a vet because of the shortage of staff and the clinics and and people are having to work longer hours to try and keep on top of it.

"So, it's an on-going situation and bringing in workers from overseas won't solve it on its own, but it will certainly help."