Talks have been held in a desperate attempt to end a recruitment crisis blighting Moray Council and the NHS.
In-patient paediatric care at Dr Gray’s Hospital is currently suspended due to a lack of staff.
And the council was last week left short of teachers after several changed their minds about moving to the region over the summer. Dozens of new job adverts have now been posted in an effort to fill the void.
Yesterday, representatives from both agencies admitted they were mystified as to why vacant positions in the region struggle to attract applicants.
But it emerged during the talks that although people know of Speyside due to its links with malt whisky, many would-be workers would struggle to point to Moray on the map.
Now new and creative ways have been called for to help promote the area to a wider audience.
And the authorities have pledged to work together on joint campaigns to solve their common problem.
Roddy Burns, chief executive of Moray Council, admitted engineering positions were also a challenge for the authority to attract and retain staff.
He said: “We’ve tried lots of things. We’ve even had council employees retraining as teachers.
“We think an issue is how we promote Moray as a place to live and work.
“It’s a lifestyle choice for people who move here from the central belt – those that do come love it.
“We’ve found that people further south don’t know much about Moray and we think we can do that better.
“People know about Speyside but there’s a gap in transferring that to Moray. We find people have never heard of Moray and don’t know anything about it.”
Moray Council and NHS Grampian are already working together on a video project to promote the region.
Yesterday the organisations vowed to work closer together on shared recruitment drives. The local authority and NHS already offer “golden hello” incentives to encourage applicants to relocate. Other initiatives, including rent-free accommodation for teachers, have been stopped due to low demand.
Skills Development Scotland and Highlands and Islands Enterprise were also at the talks to help build links with privately-owned firms.
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead arranged the discussions and believes the region can no longer rely solely on its natural beauty to entice people.
He said: “We have to think outside of the box now to make Moray’s case stand out. The region’s quality of life and other attributes are well publicised.
“What we have to do is work out how that can be part of a strategy to attract fresh talent here. We need to do more though to attract skilled professionals.”
Mr Lochhead explained that recruitment issues were a “common theme” over many industries.
NHS Grampian was forced to withdraw inpatient care for children at Dr Gray’s Hospital last week due to a shortage of junior doctors. Temporary measures involving a combination of drafting employees from elsewhere, locum staff and new rotas proved unsustainable.
New staffing arrangements are expected to take “several months” to put in place.
Alasdair Pattinson, general manager of Dr Gray’s, said: “Working together presents us with a new opportunity to address our challenges of recruiting and retaining staff. What we want to do is come up with something creative and innovative that will work on a national level.
“Moray is a positive place to live and work – but we need to get that message out there.”