$10 million carrot thrown to graduates

Last updated 17:36 02/03/2009

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A $10-million-a-year sweetener is being used to lure young medical, teacher and veterinarian graduates to areas difficult to staff.

The Government announced yesterday it would pay graduates to work in regions that have struggled to fill medical and teaching vacancies with young doctors the biggest winners.

They will receive a salary top-up of more than $45,000, less tax, after three years, if they stay put in a speciality or job that has traditionally struggled to attract graduates.

The payments will apply to areas outside the main centres, including Wairarapa, Whakatane, Southland and the West Coast.

Graduates who go on to train as a GP, general surgeon, or pursue training as an internal medicine physician in psychiatry or pathology can expect another $15,873 a year for the next two years.

The scheme is expected to attract 500 doctors to traditionally hard-to-staff areas once it is fully in place, while the Government hopes it will attract as many as 1250 nurses and midwives to unpopular areas.

The scheme also offers generous incentives to veterinarians $11,000 a year, before tax significantly more than nurses, midwives and teachers.

Nurses and midwives will get salary top-ups between $4229 and $5224 a year for three years, while teachers will get $3500 a year for five years.

The payments have been set at a rate that should allow graduates to pay off their student loans during the bonding period.

But graduates without student loans would still be eligible.

Education Minister Anne Tolley said bonding would put more teachers in schools that were hard to staff, including those in poor or isolated areas.

As many as 1800 teachers may be eligible this year, she said.

But the teachers' union said many of the schools being focused on were already staffed by younger teachers. "What they need is to recruit and train more experienced teachers," president Frances Nelson said.


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- The Dominion Post

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