52% more young Irish granted work holiday visas for Australia

 

THE NUMBER of young Irish people travelling to Australia on working holiday visas rose significantly last year, figures released by the country’s immigration department have shown.

The increasing popularity of the working visa programme, which is open to Irish people aged 18-30, has been linked to the economic downturn and rising levels of unemployment in the Republic

“With the current economic situation in Ireland, many young school leavers and graduates may be struggling to find work and are looking for other opportunities,” Tourism Australias European head, Rodney Harrex said.

Some 12,790 working holiday visas were granted in the last six months of 2008 by the Australian department of immigration and citizenship, up 52 per cent on the same period of 2007.

Mr Harrex claimed the programme offered Irish travellers the opportunity to gain valuable work experience which could give them “a real CV highlight”.

He said Tourism Australia had exploited social network websites, such as Bebo and Myspace, to promote the country as a destination for young people. The tourist authority had produced a gap year video series which was carried by both sites and watched more than three million times last year alone.

In recognition of the continuing popularity of Australia as a long-term destination for Irish people, the Government recently announced a 37 per cent increase in funding for organisations providing emigrant services to Irish citizens living in Australia. Last month €150,000 in grants was allocated to Irish community groups in Australia, up from €110,000 in 2007.