Island News

Big Break Looms For Farmers

The age category set by the Australian Government for those wishing to apply for a job under the scheme is between 21 to 45 years old.
11 Mar 2020 09:43
Big Break Looms For Farmers
Island farmers can also apply for the Pacific Labour Scheme to work overseas.

A pot of gold is on the horizon for farmers in the maritime zone. They can now join their counterparts from Viti Levu and Vanua Levu if they wish to apply for work under the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS).

However, a prior warning has been sounded for island farmers and that there will be zero tolerance for those with previous convictions and those who have taken illegal drugs.

This was revealed by the Ministry of Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Employment Centre officer, Inoke Dreketirua.

For those who are successful, the scheme will give them valuable work experience.

Likewise for other sectors, the exposure abroad will teach successful applicants new techniques and skills, which they can ply in their various fields upon their return to enhance the country’s competitiveness and ensure productivity gains.

Mr Dreketirua said farmers in the outer islands were also eligible to apply for this.

“However, they can only apply if there is a programme that is offered for farmers,” he said.

The age category set by the Australian Government for those wishing to apply for a job under the scheme is between 21 to 45 years old.

“The age category is clear, and the scheme is from zero skills, farmers are eligible to apply and those who are semi-skilled, those who have some skills in the particular area of work can apply,” Mr Dreketirua said.

“The Australian Government doesn’t want people with a Police record. If you have a record with Police then you might as well not apply,” he added.

Mr Dreketirua said that many individuals had failed the drug test conducted for at least 1000 people who had applied to work under the scheme.

“We have interviewed more than 1000 applicants, and most failed the drugs test,” he said.

“This is another good way to discourage our youths from using illicit drugs.”
Longer periods

The scheme will now allow Fijians to work for longer periods from one year to three, as opposed to nine months under the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) in Australia.
Boost economy

The Ministry of Employment, Productivity and Industrial relations said the scheme would have a positive impact on Fiji’s remittance and contribute to overall economic growth.

The scheme will boost opportunities for the semi, and low-skilled Fijians to seek employment in tourism, age-care and agricultural sectors among others in Australia.

The ministry added that Fiji, in joining the PLS, was part of the ‘Vuvale Partnership’, which was announced earlier this year by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison. His aim is to further strengthen bilateral relations and people-to-people links between both countries.

Fiji joining the PLS is also part of Australia’s ‘Step Up’ initiative towards the Pacific region.

The scheme started on July 1, 2018, following a successful pilot programme in Northern Australia and building on the success of the Seasonal Workers Programme.

This new scheme will help meet business demand across all sectors in rural and regional Australia.

And island farmers from Fiji, who are successful in their application, will benefit immensely from this.

Edited by Percy Kean

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