More Opportunities for Vanuatu’s Semi-Skilled Labourers

Another major milestone has been achieved in boosting labour mobility efforts for employees in Vanuatu, giving more access to the semi-skilled labour market in Australia.

After an official meeting held yesterday at the Ministry of Internal Affairs with its Australian counterparts, assurances have been made for a potential strengthening of the Pacific Labour Scheme program in the interest of both the Vanuatu and the Australian government.

Previously engaged in RSE and SWP labour mobility programs, semi-skilled locals are about to be given access to another but more promising labour mobility market in Australia.

Since the signing of the Pacific Labour Scheme Memorandum of Understanding in Nauru last September, 12 Ni-Vanuatu employees are now being employed in the Horticulture sector in Australia.

From yesterday’s discussions another group of 11 individuals in the tourism sector have been interviewed for positions in a 5 Star Hotel based in the Haymen Islands and are expected in Australia by April.

In a statement, the Minister of Internal Affairs, Andrew Napuat, affirms he is impressed with the progress of the Pacific Labour Scheme program.

Minister Napuat said despite the fact that work standards in the Pacific Labour Scheme are much higher than RSE and SWP, he is confident Vanuatu workers are ready to satisfactorily undertake work of such magnitude abroad.

Minister Napuat further commented, “we now have a market to compliment the internationally recognised certificates and diplomas granted by APTC as a lead regional training institution”.

He said, “The Labour Department and all other local agencies must have close collaboration to ensure sufficient preparation of workers are undertaken in order to prepare Vanuatu’s semi-skilled labourers for the Pacific Labour Scheme.

With the promise of more Australian employers offering semi-skilled labour to Vanuatu citizens, the Internal Affairs Minister reiterated the Government’s commitment to securing access to employment opportunities both locally and internationally.

While acknowledging each stakeholder, the Minister thanked the Public Service Commission for appointing a new Labour Commissioner with high hopes in driving the initiative forward.

This milestone supplements the many achievements between Australia and Vanuatu as a result of strong negotiations between Vanuatu and Australia to address labour mobility issues.

In June 2018, Prime Minister Charlot Salwai and the Minister of Internal Affairs Andrew Napuat met with their counterparts in Australia to discuss labour mobility issues and the discussion around Pacific Labour Scheme which was later signed by the Prime Minister Charlot Salwai and Australia’s Foreign Minister Senator Marise Payne in Nauru during the Pacific Leaders Meeting in September 2018.

After the announcement of the above signing, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Department of Labour proceeded with negotiations with Australian employers to expand the scope of the program from the normal SWP which focuses mainly on unskilled labour to the PLA which will now be focusing more on the semi-skilled workers.

The Minister of Internal Affairs is encouraging all Ni-Vanuatu graduates to come forward to the Employment Services Unit within the Department of Labour to have their information updated into the “Work Ready Pool” database as the country continues to explore employment opportunities for its workforce.

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