05 October 2009

Irish workers couldn’t give a Fosters for the recession

33 per cent increase in young Irish taking an Australian Working Holiday

Ireland’s young population are decamping for Australia in their thousands, with statistics from the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship showing an increase of 33 per cent in Australian Working Holiday visas for the Republic of Ireland nationals.


The number of 18 to 30 year olds taking up a one-year Australian Working Holiday Visa has increased to some 22,788 visas for the year to June 30, up from 17,120.


With Ireland’s unemployment rate at 12.4 per cent Australia is increasingly been seen as a good move, particularly as the country has been less affected by the global economic slowdown.  Australia’s unemployment rate remains steady at 5.8 per cent and it has posted positive economic growth figures since the beginning of the year and a strong Australian dollar. 


Stephen Reilly, 29, of County Cavan, fears the worst at his job, and expects to be laid off at any minute. He already has his Australian Working Holiday Visa ready, so when he does get made redundant he has options and can escape the recession in Ireland.


“The way this country is... the future is not looking bright. I work in manufacturing, driving a forklift, and word came back in May that they are looking to reduce the staff by half. There are 60 people working in that plant. I’ve been here eight years, but it is last in first out basis and I was the third person here so it is not looking good,” he said.


“I plan to take a year out when I get made redundant, do some travelling and see a bit and hopefully when I get back things will have picked up by then,” Stephen said. 


Luke McGee, 24 of County Donegal, has a couple of friends already in Australia on a working holiday and is looking forward to experiencing the Australian sunshine and way of life.


“I just want to get away for a year, something different. I think it will be grand,” he said.


Luke, who hopes to do plumbing and construction work in Australia, will fly out early January with a friend who is also on an Australian working holiday.


Noel Kelly, 29, of County Louth, has been luckier than most in the recession. As a self-employed painter/decorator and commercial artist for private companies he has not seen a downturn in work, but the lure of an Australian Working Holiday will still see him fly out to Australia next summer.


“It’s ideal: to work and travel and enjoy the sun,” he said.


“I’ve always wanted to go to Australia because so many people I know have. My brother went over 10 years ago and would call me up and tell me to come over there. And friends have gone over before, and a lot have said ‘if you can do it, do it’.


With Noel coming to the end of the age bracket for eligibility for the Australia Working Holiday Visa he knew he had to apply, or miss out altogether on his dream.


“I’ve been very lucky in the recession. A lot of my friends have been hit, and they have mortgages and kids. I didn’t buy in the boom time and I don’t have kids, and my friends say ‘there is nothing to tie you here you should just go for it’,” Noel said.  


The basic requirements for an Australian Working Holiday Visa is that applicants must be between 18 and 30 years old, with a valid passport with at least one year until renewal, and enough funds to support themselves for an initial period when they arrive in Australia.  


There is also a health and character requirement, as applicants must not have any substantial criminal convictions or substantial medical issues.


Young people can take a free online assessment to determine their eligibility for the Australian Working Holiday Visa by visiting online working holiday application or the Australian Visa Bureau website.

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