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Working Holiday Visa Youth Unemployment

“ACTU calls for working holiday visa re-think amid youth unemployment concerns.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) is urging a re-think of the working holiday visa program because of the high rate of entry-level youth unemployment.

ACTU president Ged Kearney says that while the issue is complex, the Government should review moves to sign working holiday agreements with new countries.

“If you look at just unemployed teenagers who are looking for full time work – that’s up to 19 years of age, it’s rising well toward 25 per cent unemployment,” Ms Kearney said.

“Before we just jump into… saying well let’s open up the holiday visa program for example and allow all those young people in Europe to come to Australia, we have to stop and just have a think about what is the impact that will have on our economy; what is the impact of that on our young people.”

Monash University demographer Dr Bob Birrell agrees with Ms Kearney.

He says major structural change is needed, because of a more than 30 per cent increase in the number of young foreigners coming to Australia on working holiday visas in the last year.

“We’ve seen a huge increase in the number of working holiday visas,” Dr Birrell said.

“There’s a vast imbalance between the number of working holiday makers coming here versus Australians who are taking advantage of the reciprocal rights overseas.”

He says foreign workers are prepared to accept wages and conditions that locals would not.

“Employers, because there are so many people looking for such work, are able to bargain down the terms and conditions for these jobs so it really has a nasty effect on these labour markets and a serious problem for many young people,” he said.

Dr Birrell also says the Government needs to stop a plan to sign new working holiday agreements with about a dozen new countries – including Spain, which has a 50 per cent youth unemployment rate.

“They’re showing no concern whatsoever for the plight of young people who are disadvantaged by this,” he said.

Dr Birrell says the number of additional migrant workers in total is about the same level as the total net number of new jobs created each year.

YHA chief executive Julian Ledger says Ms Kearney is right to say the issue is complex.

“Previous studies have shown that working holiday makers visiting Australia actually are net creators of employment, through the goods and services that they purchase while here,” he said.

“For each 100 visiting, an extra six jobs for Australians are created.

“This is because they have to bring a substantial amount of money with them.”

He says there is no evidence of people on working holidays driving down wages.

“They are mostly well-educated people who know their entitlements,” he said.

Mr Ledger says it is true that less Australians take up reciprocal working holiday visas.

“One reason for that is that a lot of Australians have dual nationality or work rights due to the nationality of parents or grandparents,” he said.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has not responded to the ABC’s questions on the claims.”

Good headline, but there is no empirical evidence?

Birrell is a supposed be a demographic researcher, so why has he not researched this issue?

Anecdotally there are many Irish and British using WHVs as bridging visas till they can find sponsorship and/or permanent residency. However, neither Birrell nor Kearney specify where this is an issue in Australia, which postcode or region, what types of work?

Many Australians, especially on seasonal work, are precluded by unemployment benefit system from bothering too much due to work credits (before benefits are withdrawn).

One person’s entry level employment is another’s rubbish job no one wants to do…..

This is all besides the point, simply more evidence of how Birrell does not produce evidence for most of his claims, apart from headline data which can be correlated with anything.

Why?  A negative headline (generally xenophobic), that is then transmitted further by media, while appearing credible in tandem with the ACTU, helps sow the seeds of suggestion….. known as “dog whistling”.

All out of John Tanton’s nativist strategy to create negativity and xenophobia round immigration, population growth etc.. against foreigners, immigrants, Chinese, Asians, Moslems, international students, 457 visa workers etc..

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