CEO Dr Chris Richards said the new ruling will allow Apiam to bring in experienced vets to high-growth areas where it needs them most.

The Morrison government has been front and centre this week after handing down the Federal Budget on Tuesday night.

And prior to that (last weekend), immigration minister Alex Hawke had an important update for Australia’s animal health sector, with the announcement that vets will now be placed on the government’s Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List.

It marks an important step for the sector’s near-term outlook, given that Australia is now facing a material shortage of skilled vets due to various changes and disruptions caused by the pandemic.

And it’s particularly relevant for Apiam (ASX:AHX), the ASX-listed animal health company focused on building a national vet network across Australia’s high-growth regional corridors.

Along with major demographic changes, the pandemic has also sparked a rapid increase in the rate of pet ownership. The trend is evident in capital cities but is particularly prevalent for regional areas.

In that context, Apiam CEO Dr Chris Richards has been focused on matching the supply of qualified vets to meet surging rates of demand across its network of veterinary clinics.

Speaking with Stockhead, he said the addition of vets to the Skilled Occupation list will provide the company with immediate near-term benefits.

“For us this is really important and a bit of a game-changer, in that it enables us to bring skilled and experienced vets into regional areas,” Richards said.

“We’ve got candidates in the UK and South Africa who are ready to start but haven’t been able to get here because of delays to visa approvals.”

“So this will enable us to fast-track that process and get more vets where we need them most.”

Richards added that a number of Apiam’s key markets, such as Dubbo in NSW are growing “very quickly”.

“We’ve got a need for additional vets just because of the population growth in that area.”

As a measure of the sector’s importance, qualified vets will become one of just 18 professions on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List.

With the process now significantly expedited because of the new government ruling, Richards said Apiam will get the necessary boxes ticked to start bringing new vets to Australia within the next three months.

“So this ruling will enable us to really expand into the 2022 financial year, and provide experienced vets for our existing clinics that are growing rapidly.”

It marks another piece of good news for the company, which has attracted the attention of analysts and institutional investors in 2021 as it successfully executes on a market-leading regional growth strategy.

Shares in Apiam are up by around 50 per cent so far this year, and in a recent report Shaw analyst Jonathan Higgins valued the company with a near-term price target $1.02.

This article was developed in collaboration with Apiam, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.