Opinion

Technical And Vocational Training VITAL TO FIJI’S YOUTH

The following is an address by President Jioji Konrote at the World Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) conference at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva yesterday.    
24 Aug 2016 09:35
Technical And Vocational Training VITAL TO FIJI’S YOUTH
President Major-General (Ret’d) Jioji Konrote(Right)

The following is an address by President Jioji Konrote at the World Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) conference at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva yesterday.

 

 

             The Vice Chancellor of Fiji National University, Professor Nigel Healey,

             The president of the International Vocational Education and Training Association, Carmel Thompson,

             The executives of the International Vocational Education and Training Association,

             His excellency ambassador Andrew Jacobs of the European Union,

             Honourable members of Parliament,

             Distinguished guests, and delegates,

             Ladies and gentlemen,

 

Ni sa Bula Vinaka, Namaste, Asalaam Alaykum, Ni Hao, Noa’ia‘e mauri, and a very Good morning to you all.

August is turning out to be a very special month for our young and developing nation Fiji because as a rugby-mad loving country, the gallant performance of our team in winning the Gold medal in the 7s Rugby in the Rio Olympic Games last week has brought joy and pride to all Fijians.

Sports is a very strong unifying factor and this historical win has stamped our place as World Champions in rugby’s abbreviated code so to our esteem visitors from overseas, please bear with us as we continue to savour our newly established status in the sporting world because Fiji is still on a high and celebrant mood.

For those of our visitors who arrived this weekend, I hope that you were not disturbed when fans tried to get to their heroes who stayed in this hotel on Sunday night.

Notwithstanding this, I hope that you will enjoy your short stay and thank you for gracing our shores with your presence.

Ladies and gentlemen, I deem it an honour and privilege to be invited and be here with you this morning, amongst so many distinguished scholars, educators and expert from around the world.

Thank you for choosing Fiji to be the venue for this very important conference, because it enhances our national profile as a developing nation that is determined to promote and advance the education of its young people who will be our leaders of tomorrow.

This in turn ladies and gentlemen, is in line with Government’s vision and strategy in endeavouring to establish Fiji as a well-educated and knowledge-based society.

Fiji not only continues to recognise the importance of technical and vocational training, but it is investing significant resources to attract brilliant young minds to this cadre of learning.

The World TVET conference provides another unique opportunity for us in the Pacific especially here in Fiji to bring to this country some of the best minds and practitioners in the field of technical and vocational education and training.

In this globalised learning and working environment, nations all over the world are faced with the universal challenges such as job creation, unemployment, poverty, and the mismatch of skills with employment. There is indeed a high demand for skilled workers.

This international conference will certainly help us to refine our education and vocational training so that there is a smoother transition for our children from school to employment.

Children should know from an early age about the various career pathways and options available to them and be able to make the right career choices.

Fiji understands the obvious that not all children in school can become doctors, accountants, teachers and engineers. However, at the same time, we are not treating technical and vocational training as a second choice for our young people.

On the contrary, we are making technical and vocational training as attractive as any other academic field of study so that we can also have suitable qualified personnel leading in this field of work in future.

This is a pragmatic and practical approach, which could help meet the labour demands a little quicker than the conventional academic pursuits.

Your conference theme: “Quality, Innovation and skill mobilisation in Technical Vocational Education and Training – an internationalisation process”, should remind us all that it is time to change our mindset and have a major paradigm shift about technical and vocational education.

Countries across the world need to acknowledge that technical and vocational education and training will provide the skills, knowledge and human resources needed to develop and sustain our economies in years to come.

This is especially true for small developing countries like Fiji. We rely on technical vocational education and training to enable and to empower us to cope with pressures such as poverty, climate change adaptation and skilled migration, among others.

We have a shortage of skilled labour in various sectors such as construction, manufacturing, tourism and agriculture, among others. Hence, we rely on our technical colleges and institutions to help us address these.

I am advised that the demand for technical and skilled labour force is not only in Fiji, but in the region as well as in developed countries like Australia, New Zealand, America and Japan to mention a few. This demand for skilled workers is raising demand for training institutions to provide them.

The demand for skilled workers is also because of children’s aptitude and interests are in this area and not in higher education studies. Hence, training institutions must rise up and provide for this.

One of our strategies is to convert some of our schools into specialised TVET Centres and to ensure that these centres are located strategically across the country to cater for both the urban and rural population.

In fact, through the Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts, the Fijian Government has established the Technical College of Fiji, which has 12 campuses throughout Fiji offering hands-on technical training up to Level 2 standard in the qualifications framework. The Fijian Government is also lending its support to the Fiji National University to provide technical education. All these are work in progress for us.

Like any endeavour, there will always be certain challenges. But, I am happy to note that your conference will help project some focus on some of these issues and challenges.

And I hope that our Pacific delegates will gain many good ideas and practices that we can adapt to our unique situations.

In closing, ladies and gentlemen, I wish to congratulate the International Vocational Education and Training Association for bringing this conference to Fiji.

I also thank and commend the Fiji National University and sponsors for making this a reality.

In thanking you, I also encourage the Fiji National University, and all other institutions that are offering technical training, to work with the industry to not only know what skill sets they require, but also to use the industry for attachments so that when our students graduate, they are a complete creation ready to contribute meaningfully to the Nation’s development.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would also like to thank the international keynote speakers and delegates for taking the time to come to Fiji. We are honoured and privileged to have you with us in Suva today.

I am sure that this three-day event will be very productive and exciting for all of you. Please also take the time to explore our country and enjoy the friendly atmosphere because Fiji is where happiness finds you.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I now have the greatest pleasure in declaring the World TVET Conference for 2016 officially open.

I wish you every success and I look forward to hearing of your deliberations.

May God Bless you all and our beloved Fiji and all Fijians.

Vinaka Vakalevu, Dhanyavaad, Sukria, Fai’eksia and Thank you.

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

 

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