The number of young Australians applying to work in Antarctica has plunged in just the past year, with some imputing the sharp decline in applicants to the lure of high wages in the country's mining sector.
According to Reuters the Australian Antarctic Division has seen such a sharp decline in applicant numbers that the program has been forced to postpone the deadline for acceptance to January next year, as well as extend the pool of eligible candidates to non-Australian nationals.
Applications for the 2013-2014 period dropped by almost half, falling by 1,000 from 2,200 last year.
The Australian Antarctic Division has been in operation for nearly a century and provides intrepid young Australians with the opportunity to live and work near the South Pole for periods of up to 16 months.
Rob Bryson, the AAD Territories, Environment and Treaties Section Manager, imputed the plunge in applicant number to the lavish wages of Australia's still lucrative mining sector, with whom the program is in direct competition for personnel.
"The people we are targeting are heavily sought after, particularly in the mining and the oil and gas industry, especially trades people."
According to Bryson the program essentially targets the same types of people who would be willing to work as miners under harsh conditions in remote locations, yet is unable to offer the same remuneration levels.
At present the average tradies salary in Australia is AUD$150,000, while the average salary of fly-in fly-out miners is around AUD$200,000.
Bryson hopes the unique nature of the experience of working in Antarctica will be able to attract applicants for the program.
We may not offer the same money as the fly-in fly-out miners are getting, but we can offer a breathtaking environment to operate in. Very few people in the history of humanity have actually been to Antarctica.