Young local workers and working tourists battle for jobs

30-Aug-2013 9:23 AM

Increasing numbers of holiday makers are applying for working visas to the detriment of young Australians, according to new research.

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Published today, a report by Dr Bob Birrell and Dr Ernest Healy of Monash University's Centre for Population and Urban Research found the number of Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visas issued has increased from 185,480 in 2010-11 to 249,231 in 2012 -13.

Dr Birrell said in the year to May there had been an increase of 168,000 recently arrived overseas-born migrants aged 15 plus in Australia.

“Of this number, 108,200 are employed - this is almost as large as the 126,000 increase in employment over the same year,” Dr Birrell said.

“The Australian Government’s permanent-entry migration program was set at a record high level of 214,000 in 2012-13 and it is encouraging temporary migrants to work in Australia in unprecedented numbers.

“The migration surge would not be an issue if the local working age population was stable or shrinking, but it is not. Their numbers are growing strongly.”

Young local workers are the main losers in the competition for employment; especially those without post-school education who are seeking less skilled, entry-level jobs.

“Not only are they competing in a labour market where more local workers in the 55 plus age range at staying in the work force, but they also have to compete for less-skilled, entry-level work with an increasing number of job hungry temporary migrants looking for the same work,” Dr Birrell said.

Currently, around 250,000 young people leave school and enter the workforce each year. This is about the same number of the WHM visas issued in 2012-13. These include a new breed of WHM, who are leaving economies where employment is difficult to find and primarily looking for work, rather than a holiday supplemented by work.

Dr Birrell said it was unfortunate that not a word is being heard about these issues from the major political parties in the lead up to the election on 7 September.

“The consequence of this issue is seriously high unemployment among locals aged 15 to 24. Currently 14.5 per cent of 15 to 19 year olds and 9.5 per cent of 20 to 24 year olds are out of work,” Dr Birrell said.

The study also contains an analysis of the official Labour Force Survey reports on the Australian jobs market. The survey does not include those who stay in Australia for less than a year. As a consequence, it misses at least 500,000 recently arrived migrants, of whom about 250,000 are likely to be employed. Consequently, policy makers underestimate the scale of the recent migrant challenge for local youth who are seeking employment.

For more information contact Glynis Smalley, Monash Media & Communications +61 3 9903 4843 | 0408 027 848 or glynis.smalley@monash.edu.

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