ABS, IVS and WHM stats to Dec 2017April 3rd, 2018 | | industry
The Department of Home Affairs WHV report for the six months ending Dec 2017 is not yet available. However, there is some useful data which can be sourced if you know where to look.
Going back to the Dec 2016 published report a comparison table looks like this:
The trends are clear:
– A continuing small decline in 417s (eg 1st year down 3%)
– A continuing increase in 462s (eg 1st year up 16%)
The contraction in 417 2nd year visas may be due to a tougher employment test and more people voting with their feet and giving harvest work a miss. While the growth in 462 visas is due to new countries coming onbaord and a couple of caps being lifted.
But is this the real story? What we know is that program numbers peaked in 2012-2013 at 258.000 and has declined 18.7% since then. It looks like the growth in 462 might start to counteract some of the annual decline in 417s, but it doesn’t make up for the 40-50,000 lost in the last 5 years. Add to that the decline in overnights (now down below 70 nights per visitor) and we can start to extrapolate some gross figures on how much less this sector is now worth. While all the talk is of growth in Asian and other mainstream markets (its now China AND India), the WHM market continues to shrink. This then starts to correlate with how many businesses (and business people) have left the sector during the past five years. Add consolidation, acquistion and mergers and we now have a far smaller group of operators than we used to and so also a smaller voice to industry and government.
Here are a couple more thoughts to consider and perhaps there is room for some debate.
There are some post GFC indications that there has been a shift in sentiment (in Japan due to years of weak economic performance) and it may be time and an opportunity (for Tourism Australia and the industry) to put more emphasis on the original and more lofty cultural exchange and educational objectives of the WHV scheme.
When its only promoted or discussed as a holiday (see hedonism below) or work scheme it takes a hammering from all sides, but this is only part of the story. It has a far greater role to play in cultural exchange, diplomacy and creating future personal and corporate connections.
That is life education not necessarily book learning for which we have student visas. How better for Japanese (and Korean for that matter) young people to become confident in conversational English than to spend a year living, working and travelling in Australia. Then return home and be able to contribute to Japan’s/Korea’s economic development as part of the global economy.
While in the UK, due to increases in tertiary education (typically £9000/year), students now accumulate significant debt and overall there is more pressure to get a career started. A working holiday can still be seen as valuable life experience, however the dominant image is hedonism rather than personal development prevails and parents appear to be becoming less indulgent and less willing to co-fund a pure ‘holiday’.
Comments are welcomed.