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Is Fiji On Track to Achieve Full and Productive Employment By 2030?

Four out of the five speakers answered ‘Yes’ last night during the Parliament Speaker’s Debate at the Grand Pacific Hotel, Suva. The question: Is Fiji on track to achieve full
28 Nov 2017 12:03
Is Fiji On Track to Achieve Full and Productive Employment By 2030?

Four out of the five speakers answered ‘Yes’ last night during the Parliament Speaker’s Debate at the Grand Pacific Hotel, Suva.

The question: Is Fiji on track to achieve full and productive employment by 2030?

Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations Jone Usamate said in the context of the debate, ‘full and productive employment’ meant the employment of people in the country or in other words, our human labour.

“The question to be asked is how to strengthen the ability of our graduates to produce the right kind of people to be employed,” said Mr Usamate.

It is important to ensure that the programmes offered at various national universities are developed to produce the right kind of people who are ready for the workforce.

With the ever evolving technology world that we live in, it is also important that graduates and those in the workforce are constantly up to date with the current trends in technology, Mr Usamate said.

Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation chief executive officer Nesbit Hazelman stated that companies have been investing a lot of money in re-training graduates.

Fiji has committed itself to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by the end of 2030 and one of the Government’s priorities is to tackle the issue of unemployment through job creation.

Although we are only 12 years away from ensuring that we fulfil our commitment towards the SDGs, Mr Hazelman says that we must remain optimistic as we will able to improve on decreasing our unemployment rate over the upcoming years.

He emphasized that the millennials should not only target nor expect to have white collar jobs once they graduate from university but rather to take interest in blue collar jobs.

He added that work needs to be done in terms of improving our data collection procedures and measuring productivity.

Reserve Bank of Fiji, chief manager of economics Caroline Waqabaca said that our employment rate has generally fallen over the past five years, from over seven per cent to now 5.5 per cent.

At the same time, she says, our employment numbers have generally risen by an average of over two per cent annually.

She said the improved employment numbers are in line with our strong macroeconomic performance over the past seven years.

Given our solid performance, we have the potential to reach this goal if we maintain the current momentum of growth-enhancing policies and address the structural impediments that are preventing sectors from reaching their potential, she said.

Agreeing on the same sentiments that were expressed by the previous speakers, International Labour Organization director Donglin Li said although we are on track, there is still a long way to go to meet all the 2030 goals, particularly Goal 8:

‘Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.’

Mr Li said: “Decent work is not just about having a job.

“It is about the quality of employment that provides an adequate income to keep workers and their families out of poverty.

“It is about the basic rights at work and a voice in decision-making process.

“It is about having social safety net in times of misfortune.”

Mr Li said all these are key ingredients of a decent job which stands for dignity of work, promotes sense of self-worth and ensures family and social stability.

Although there has been remarkable progress in our economic, social and labour market development, improvement needs to be done in terms of providing decent work.

He outlined that there are high rates of youth unemployment and large informal sectors as well as skills mismatch.

Gender inequality in some areas, ineffective social dialogue mechanisms, frequent natural disasters and impacts of climate change have become barriers to achieving a full decrease in our unemployment rate.

On the other hand, opposition member Niko Nawaikula criticised the 2018 National Budget for ‘generalising’ unemployment in the country.

He said that the four per cent unemployment rate target that is set in the National Budget is not enough for him and Fiji can do better by targeting three per cent.

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