Jobs Faceoff between Aussie Youth and Working Tourists
2 September 2013 at 10:36 am
New research suggests tourists on working holiday visas are trumping unemployed local youth in the battle for jobs, prompting calls from academics for changes to migration policy.
The report, ‘Scarce Jobs: Migrants or Locals at the end of the Queue?’ by Dr Bob Birrell and Dr Ernest Healy of Monash University's Centre for Population and Urban Research reveals jobs growth is not competing with demand and that the growth occurring can be mainly attributed to working tourists.
Released last week, the new figures show that in the year to May 2013, there was an increase of 168,000 recently arrived overseas born migrants aged over 15 in Australia. Of these, 108,200 were employed.
That was almost as large as the 126,000 increase in employment in that year.
The 250,000 working holiday visas (WHMs) likely to be granted in 2012-13 was equivalent to the total current annual number of school leavers entering the workforce, the research noted.
‘The great majority of the net growth in employed persons comprises recently-arrived migrants. They have achieved this outcome at the expense of locals, mainly young people,” the report said.
“It is disturbing that, in the current youth employment crisis, no cap has been placed on the WHM inflow.”
The Australian Youth Affairs Coalition reported last week that the current full-time unemployment rate (that is, people looking for full-time work) for people aged 15 to 19 years old is at a 15 year high at 27.3%, and that youth unemployment is four times the national average.
Meanwhile, ‘Scarce Jobs’ said growth in the number of employed persons overall had fallen sharply, from 259,000 in the year to May 2011 to 126,900 in the year to May 2013. According to Treasury forecasts, it would fall to around 110,000 in 2013-14.
Concurrently the number of WHM visas issued had increased from 185,480 in 2010-11 to 249,231 in 2012 -13.
The report said the increase could in part be attributed to those who were leaving countries where employment was difficult to find and coming to Australia looking for work more intently than a regular working tourist.
“There are almost no caps on the number of visas issued in these temporary visa subclasses. However, the desperation of people in job scarce countries to access Australia’s labour market is enormous,” the report said.
“In effect, the Australian economy is acting as a safety valve for the youth unemployment problems of other countries, at the expense of its own young people’s employment prospects.”
The report urged the government to acknowledge the growing competition for jobs.
“All sides of politics purport to be troubled by the recent slowdown in job creation and its manifestation in increased unemployment, especially amongst young people. However, apart from some sections of the trade union movement, there is silence on the extent to which current migration policies are making the unemployment situation worse.”
“How could such a serious situation be allowed to prevail with such little public comment, especially in an election context?” the report said.
Included were a set of recommendations and goals for the Government to consider after the September 7th election:
Raise public awareness of the way current migration settings are impacting on the interests of locals, particularly young people.
Provide funding to enable the ABS to more thoroughly assess the involvement of recently-arrived migrants in the Australian labour force.
Address migration policy to restrict jobs offered through permanent programs and put caps on the temporary-entry programs, particularly the Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa.
Read the full report here.