NEWS

‘We Need to Ensure There is No Skills Shortage in the Islands’‘

There is concern that with labour scheme programmes, it is leaving a skill shortage in the Pacific Islands.
14 Jul 2022 09:33
‘We Need to Ensure There is No Skills Shortage in the Islands’‘
51st Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting talanoa session (from left) moderator – Dr. Audrey Aumua, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Tuvalu’s Foreign Minister Simon Kofe, Samoan Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa and Federated States of Micronesia’s President, David Panuelo at the Civic Centre in Suva on July 13, 2022. Photo: Ronald Kumar

There is concern that with labour scheme programmes, it is leaving a skill shortage in the Pacific Islands.

The New Zealand Government is working closely with Pacific Island Countries, particularly Fiji and Samoa, to ensure that while they recruit labourers for their labour scheme programmes, there is no issue of skills shortage from their countries.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern raised the point during a press conference at the 51st Pacific Island Leaders Forum Leaders Meeting in Suva yesterday.

Ms Ardern said in conversations she has had with Pacific partners, leaders had raised the issue of skills shortage particularly in this period of COVID-19 recovery.

 

“Now, what has struck me is that the skill shortages that New Zealanders experience are being experienced in the Pacific region,” Ms Ardern said.

“Here in Fiji they’ve seen a rapid increase in the number of tourists coming into Fiji since the borders opened and they are concerned about the loss of skills from within Fiji to other tourist destinations such as Australia and New Zealand. So this is where I think we have to be mindful that some schemes that we perceive to be as aid and development opportunities can also have an impact.”

She said Governments like Australia and New Zealand should be more careful on how they run those schemes, so it doesn’t actually lead to skill loss.

She said the labour schemes were designed to also address unemployment and create opportunities for those who may not have work opportunities within the country.

 

Australia

Australia’s Foreign Minister, Senator Penny Wong, has assured that the Australian Government is working very hard to address the exploitation of some workers who travel to Australia to work under the Pacific Labour Mobility Scheme.

Senator Wong, who is in the country to attend the 51st PIF Leaders Meeting in Suva said labour issues were at the forefront of their government’s priorities.

“We’re a government that has a very strong ethical and philosophical commitment to ensuring workers are not exploited,” she said.

“We’ve made some changes and we will make more changes.”

She said this was an issue that they had always looked at while they were in Opposition.

“You can’t guarantee everything, but I can say to you that we work very hard to make sure that we crack down on exploitation,” she said.

 

Feedback: inoke.rabonu@fijisun.com.fj



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