Thursday, November 29, 2012
The Australian Federal Tourism Minister, Martin Ferguson announced last month that the Federal Government was working on a strategy to bring more overseas workers to Australia on Australia working holiday visa options.
Australia presently has reciprocal arrangements on working holiday visas with 20 countries. Visa holders can work for up to 6 months for one employer and are allowed to stay up to 12 months in Australia. Some of the countries with reciprocal working holiday visa arrangements include UK, Canada, Japan, Ireland, Korea, France, Italy, German, Denmark and Sweden.
This new initiative aims to tackle the employment shortage in the tourism industry. Martin Ferguson, the Federal Tourism Minister, acknowledged it was one strategy the government is pursuing to address the problem. He acknowledged Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s recent announcement about an increase in the number of working holiday visa arrivals from Indonesia.
“We are in the process of negotiating a range of other bilateral agreements with different countries to also enter into similar opportunities to bring additional holiday visa workers to Australia to assist especially the tourism industry,” he told a tourism industry breakfast in Brisbane in July, 2012.
The Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria has been aggressively lobbying for Greece to be included in the working holiday visa reciprocal arrangement initiative. Coordinated efforts commenced well over a year and to date reciprocal rights have not been granted.
"Greek Communities and organisations from various Australian cities have been in contact with the relevant Australian Government departments to find solutions to the issues that our patriots are facing in their endeavours to migrate to Australia including the possibility of finding employment.” Stated The Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic Mr. Stavros Lambrinidis.
Despite these unsuccessful lobbying efforts to date, businesses such as Translationz, a translation and interpreting agency, www.translationz.com.au are experiencing an influx business from overseas customers.
“We have certainly seen a substantial increase in the number of Greek document translations in recent weeks.” Stated Karen Hodgson, CEO of Translationz. “We have seen an influx of translation requests from Greek to English for birth certificates and school transcripts. Clients are telling us they are applying for student and working holiday visas and urgency seems to be a common factor”.
A sense of urgency maybe required as the situation in Greece worsens by the day. Greek unemployment is hovering around 22% and the situation with young workers between ages of 18 and 24 is even more dire with one in two young Greeks unemployed. Economists said those Greeks with the skills will flee the country in search of better prospects – leaving behind the low-skilled workforce and damaging competitiveness further.
Alan Clarke, an economist at Scotia Capital, said “Countries like Germany are booming and they’ve got skills shortages. Labour mobility to Germany would redress the balance. To some extent, an exodus of skilled workers could be the legacy of youth unemployment in Greece.”
According to the Eurostat, which complies EU migration figures, of the 122,975 people that emigrated from crisis-hit Spain in 2010, more than 10 percent went to Germany. A high number also fled to the UK.
There is no breakdown from Greece’s emigration in the same year, but the country lost 62,227 people to other EU states, Eurostat said. Meanwhile, fewer than 20,000 EU people came to Greece, suggesting it has already experienced a brain drain.
Karen Hodgson, CEO of Translationz
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