Securing decent employment is becoming an ever increasing challenge for young people, including young women and persons with disabilities in Vanuatu. However, the government recognises the vision of implementing evidence based and sustainable policies and programmes that will address this important challenge.

In recognition of the importance of establishing and improving employment services for youths, the Department of Labour in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Pacific Growth & Employment Project (PGEP) conducted the first Training of Trainers (TOT) on Career Counselling 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, educational institutions and NGO’s that deal with young people, both in-school and out-of-school, on a regular basis.

In opening the training, the chief guest, the Commissioner of Labour and chair of the Tripartite Labour Advisory Council (TLAC), Mr Lionel Kaluat said that this training was important to Vanuatu because it also focuses on the prevention aspect of youth unemployment.

“Ensuring that we introduce career counselling in the schools, while the youths are still in the education system, is a more effective and sustainable approach, especially when they are choosing their subjects”, said Mr Kaluat.

He further added that this training is in line with Chapter 8 of Governments Priorities & Action Agenda (PAA), under: Education and Human Resource Development, which specifically refers to the importance of career counselling/advice. He further stated that this training also supports the Youth Development Policy and Strategic Plan of Action – under “educational and entrepreneurial pathways”.

The ILO provided technical assistance through a facilitator and resource materials that was developed specifically for young people in the pacific. Mr Edward Bernard from the ILO Office for the Pacific Island Countries said the objectives of the training was to train a set of Career Counsellors in Vanuatu using an ILO developed pacific guide, titled “My Guide to Employment – for young people in the Pacific”. The guide has four components: (a) preparing to find a job, (b) Finding a job, creating your own job and (d) keeping a job. On the final day of the training, the participants developed an implementation plan to use their skills, knowledge and the guide to expand the training to ultimately benefit young people.

Mr Bernard said that the Youth Challenge Vanuatu (YCV) was already using some sections of the guide in their Ready for Work Programme. While YCV’s programmes focuses on out-of school youths, they indicated in their plans of the possibility of extending the career counselling training to schools, including possibly offering it during school holidays.

“I have also already received a formal correspondence from the School of Hospitality & Tourism, who sent a participant to the training, indicating that they will conduct a session for their staff and graduates before the industry recruitment day later this year”, said Mr Bernard. “This training is timely and will prepare our students well in terms of CV writing and interview skills before they meet with the industry employers during our annual recruitment day”, said the head of school, Mr Olsen Tama. Mr Tama also indicated that for the long term, the school was interested in including careers counselling as part of the curriculum.

Ms Rebecca Solomon from the Vanuatu National Youth Council (VNYC) behalf of the young people of Vanuatu, during the opening ceremony said that she was grateful for the opportunities given to us (youths) by the government through the department of Labor, the ILO and the PGEP to make this two days into reality. She also plans to conduct this training for the VNYC executives in November 2014, with the aim that when they return to their respective provinces, they will be able to support their members requiring career counselling.

The Department of Labour (DoL) indicated their interest to incorporate this career counselling training as part of the re-integration of seasonal workers, particularly the section on “creating your own job”. Ms Lerrain Mika Loughman from the DoL, recognised value in providing training for seasonal workers as a basis that they can use the money they have earned in to invest in small business.

The training not only focussed on the concepts and process of career counselling, but also on the simple interactive techniques that counsellors can use to deliver the key messages to job seekers and potential job seekers. The participants were also trained in understanding the dreams, skills, education and interests of the young people, but also knowing what type of jobs and how many are available in the labour market, hence the balance between supply and demand.

This training was delivered under the framework of the PGEP, that works with local industry stakeholders, including the ILO tripartite partners to achieve better employment outcomes for young people in the tourism sector.

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