While many Taiwanese young people like to use the opportunity of working holidays to hone their English skills and try to make a quick buck on the side, those with experience caution future working holidaymakers to be smart and not just become cheap labor.
Taiwan has working holiday agreements with countries including New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Canada, England, Ireland, South Korea and Belgium, with Australia being the most popular destination.
A man who identified himself as R.J., who had worked as a bartender and in a DVD packaging plant, said that young people wishing to head overseas on working holidays could spend some more time on the Internet and forums looking for potential job offers.
Youth-hostel bulletin boards are also a good source of job opportunities, R.J. said, adding that prospective working tourists could also consult with friends with previous experience.
“Friends had pointed out to me that the two places where I worked in Australia were looking for workers,” R.J. said, adding that creativity and courage were two key assets when trying to find a job.
Simply walking into stores and asking if they are looking for help is another method of finding work, R.J. said.
R.J. spoke of one instance in which a friend called a strawberry plantation using the number that was printed on a box of strawberries and was offered an opportunity to work in the fields.
There are many types of jobs in Australia and it is just a matter of personal preference and what kind of work you can accept, R.J. said, adding that he once found a job on the Internet as a janitor for a wife-swapping club, but he turned it down in the end.
Commenting on media reports that working in Australia could help young workers earn their first NT$1 million (US$33,440), R.J. said that was very unlikely.
“My friends and I made some calculations, and for young workers looking to earn their first NT$1 million by working in Australia on working holidays, they would have to work 10-plus hours every day at a high hourly wage [for at least 230 days],” he said.
As a bartender, R.J. said he made about A$500 to A$600 (US$486 to US$584) a week.
Meanwhile, he cautioned that while there is an abundance of jobs in Australia, there are good jobs and bad jobs.
Good work opportunities adhere to Australia’s minimum wage of A$15 an hour, and also offer health and labor insurance, R.J. said, adding that this type of work usually requires strong English skills, as well as other qualifications.
“The bad type of work is usually found in establishments where Asians are the proprietors,” R.J. said.
In these jobs, workers are paid in cash and wages are between A$8 and A$10 an hour.
Such work does not cover insurance, but requires little in the way of qualifications, R.J. said.
R.J. said that working holidaymakers planning to head to a plantation for work should be aware that some plantation jobs are bundled off to “managers.” In such cases, workers might have part of their wages withheld or not receive wages at all, adding that working holidaymakers should be careful to find reputable employers.
Most people who have taken working holidays seemed to come to the conclusion that people taking working holidays should decide what they want out of their trips before they go.
People should make up their minds before leaving home about whether they want to make some money, learn language skills or just enjoy a trip abroad, R.J. said, adding that doing that would help them make the most of the opportunity.