Australian Tourism Export Council Needs Working Holiday Makers to Help Meet Tourism’s Unskilled Labour Shortage

Press Room > 2022

As the industry’s peak export tourism association, the Australian Tourism Export Council is calling for a period of three months work in the tourism and hospitality sector, to be included in the eligibility criteria for Working Holiday Makers, as visitors to qualify for a second-year visa, expanding it to include areas beyond the current ‘northern or remote and very remote Australia’ qualifying regions.

According to ATEC, widening the eligibility criteria under which Working Holiday Makers can extend their stay by an additional one to two years, will help to meet the tourism industry’s dire need for unskilled labour.

“Tourism and hospitality businesses across the country are facing severe shortages in staff, particularly the unskilled workforce which helps businesses to meet the demands of seasonal fluctuations,” said Mr. Peter Shelly, managing director of ATEC.

He further added: “Previously WHM holders could work for three months in jobs primarily in the agricultural sector, in order to qualify for an extension of their visa.  Some jobs in the tourism industry also qualify, however these are restricted to work in regional areas of northern parts of the country.

Tourism businesses across the country desperately need unskilled workers and these workers are crucial to the successful rebuilding of our industry.”

Mr Shelley said that while the tourism industry required long-term solutions to the workforce challenge, there is an opportunity to instigate a short-term solution through the Working Holiday Maker programme, which was introduced in 1975 with the purpose of promoting cross cultural understanding.

ATEC recognises the significant need for both skilled and unskilled labour across the sector and the lack of unskilled labour in particular is something which can be addressed by expanding the WHM visa criteria as way of meeting the severe labour shortages being faced as the industry rebuilds post-covid.

He mentioned that: Australia has an opportunity to use the WHM visa system, to both support the rebuild of Australia’s tourism industry, and to help solve some of the critical workforce shortages being faced across the nation.

This is by making the WHM visa more attractive by offering a wider range of work options to create a greater uptake and therefore help support the re-growth of this important export market in Australia.

ATEC is calling on the Federal Government to expand the definition of a ‘specified area of work’ within the Working Holiday Makers second year eligibility extension to include, all tourism and hospitality work across the country.