The Pacific Growth & Employment Project (PGEP), a joint initiative of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) with the support of the Australian Government and the International Labor Organization (ILO) came to an end on Friday 28 November 2014 after two years in operation.
The project was set up to promote sustainable employment and decent work in the Asia-Pacific region. Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea benefited the most from the project. The project involved industry leaders, union representatives and government representatives in ensuring that there are increased opportunities for sustainable and productive employment, harmonization of skills across the Pacific and Australian economies in the transport and tourism sectors, demonstration of the value of industry led action plans to grow employment and strengthened the capacity of the representative organizations of employers and workers. Furthermore the project worked with key employers, government departments, trade unions and NGOs to identify specific opportunities for employment growth and identified barriers to increased employment and strengthened the capacity of the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the National Trade Union to promote industry development and decent work outcomes.
For Vanuatu, the project achieved several results. The first result was a training on leadership for members of the hospitality section of the Vanuatu National Workers Union. The training was facilitated jointly by the ACTU and United Voice. United Voice is the Australian union which organizes hospitality workers. Other notable results are:
• The project hired a local consultant who released a well documented report on how best to link farmers to markets to enhance the increase of the local agricultural produce in the tourism supply chain.
• The project organized a Tripartite workshop on working conditions and productivity whereby representatives of the employers, workers and the government got together to discuss ways forward on how to handle issues regarding working conditions and productivity.
• The project organized a workplace mentor training program whereby 18 participants from three hotels, the Vanuatu National Workers Union, Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Youth Challenge Vanuatu were trained. The training was a skills set put together by the project team and focused on essential workplace mentoring and workforce learning and development within the work place. The Skills Set consisted of two units of competency with an additional competency on group instruction included to give learners greater confidence in group based instruction activities in a work setting.
• The project had engaged a consultant to work with Youth Challenge Vanuatu (YCV) to develop a hospitality specific job readiness curriculum to be delivered to unemployed youth. The first phase of the curriculum development has been completed with the new curriculum developed. The consultant who developed the curriculum then went on to hold a series of workshops with YCV training staff on the new curriculum. After the workshops, the project funded training for 15 currently unemployed youths for 4 weeks plus a 5 week vocational placement with a Port Vila based hotel. The youths were really happy during the engagement.
• The project organized a training on career counseling. In recognition of the importance of establishing and improving employment services for young people, the International Labour Organization (ILO) in collaboration with the Department of Labour and the Pacific Growth and Employment Project conducted a Training of Trainers (TOT) on Career Counseling in Vanuatu from 15-16 October 2014 at the Grand Hotel and Casino. This training was attended by 20 participants from government institutions, private sector, Vanuatu National Workers Union, educational institutions and NGO’s that deal with young people, both in-school and out-of-school, on a regular basis. The ILO provided technical assistance through a facilitator and resource materials that was developed specifically for young people in the Pacific. The objectives of the training were to train a set of Career Counselors in Vanuatu using an ILO developed Pacific guide, titled “My Guide to Employment – for young people in the Pacific”. The Youth Challenge Vanuatu (YCV) was already using some sections of the guide in their Ready for Work Program. Furthermore, the School of Hospitality and Tourism, who sent a participant to the training, will conduct further career counseling sessions for their staff and graduates. The Head of the School of Hospitality, Mr. Olsen Tama stated that for the long term, the school was interested in including careers counseling as part of the School’s curriculum.
The only program that the project did not manage to realize before its closure was a Labour Exchange program. It was intended to get the Carnival Cruises to agree to get at least ten hotel employees, for a start, onboard its cruise ships for a specific period of time to improve their hospitality skills. The Carnival Cruises was willing to consider the proposal but in the end it scaled down from its engagement to the project and opted to partner with the APTC to secure a larger supply of potential employees.
Several institutions indicated that they would like to see the project continuing however funding was not available to keep the project going therefore it had to cease. It is hoped that Department of Labour and key stakeholders with the assistance of ILO and other funding partners would be able to follow up on the results achieved and continue to maintain a productive working partnership.