Border opening a big boon to Waytree

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Waytree founding team. From left to right; Nic Terpkos, Harry Lowther and James Dernie. Source: Image supplied.

Perth-based startup Waytree has seen a dramatic increase in the number of working holidaymakers looking for agriculture and hospitality work in Australia since international borders opened back up.

Founded in late-2020, Waytree is a free-to-use online seasonal jobs marketplace. Often, backpackers on a working holiday visa will fill seasonal farm jobs to extend their stay in Australia. However, many foreign workers may find it hard to find the right job at the right time.

Even more serious cases of exploitation and wage theft are reported and investigated.

The founders of Waytree claim their platform provides greater transparency and speed of hiring for workers and farmers.

Founder and CEO of Waytree, Nic Terpkos said that within weeks of borders opening, the platform has seen a 300% increase in new job seekers applying for farm and hospitality jobs, particularly from the UK, France and Italy.

What’s exciting is seeing working holidaymakers on social media keen to get stuck into farm and regional hospitality work upon arrival in order to secure their second year visa, which is great news for short-staffed businesses.

Given the prolonged absence of working holidaymakers and reduced word-of-mouth factor, many businesses now face the dilemma of how to reconnect with the arriving working holidaymakers.

Chantal from Euri Gold Farms was one of many farmers searching for innovative ways to connect with job seekers throughout the pandemic and stumbled upon Waytree.

“I was amazed to find something like this [Waytree] existed. We managed to fill most of our vacancies and when the borders reopened we didn’t need to do anything because we already felt connected with the local and international job seeker community. It’s really given us the confidence to focus our attention back on our core business.”

Strong conditions for boom in business

The return of foreign workers will play an important role in Australia’s post-pandemic economic recovery.

Before the pandemic, there were 300,000 working holidaymakers arriving in Australia each year, filling 250,000 job vacancies and contributing $3.2 billion to the economy.

This will undoubtedly bounce back thanks to borders reopening, in which Waytree is well-positioned to rapidly grow its user base.

There are 30,000 visa holders currently offshore, which is a significant increase from the mere 287 visas processed at the end of the last financial year.

Additionally, to encourage the speedy return of foreign workers to Australia, the Federal Government has offered to reimburse the visa costs of working holidaymakers ($495) and international students ($606) that arrive before the end of April.

National Manager of Acclaimed Workforce, Ed Milne said the return of working holidaymakers is a welcome relief.

“Working holidaymakers play a key role in our Harvest Trail Services business, filling fruit picking jobs and hospitality roles in regional Australia.”

“It has been difficult for everyone in the industry to find staff the past two years, but now there appears to be some light at the end of the staff shortage tunnel.”