Another milestone for skills training in Vanuatu was reached last Friday, 5th February when 14 plumbers in SANMA province walked down the aisle to collect a nationally and internationally recognised qualification, after successfully completing all 20 units of the new Certificate II in Plumbing training package.

This marks the first ever local delivery of the Certificate II in Plumbing in Vanuatu, thanks to the joint effort between Torgil Rural Training Centre (under the Anglican Church of Melanesia Vocational Education and Training School — ACOMVETS), the Vanuatu Skills Partnership (VSP) through the Sanma Skills Centre under the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET), and the Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC).

In his keynote address, VSP Director, Mr Fremden Yanhambath, spoke highly of Vanuatu’s flexible training delivery system – including the provincial Skills Centres — as a strategic approach to addressing priority skills gaps: “SANMA Province now has 14 qualified plumbers to contribute to health security in the face of COVID-19 and the TC Harold reconstruction efforts. This is a milestone for human resource development for the province and the right step in addressing the Vanuatu Government’s priority areas for human resource development. Director Yanhambath also reiterated the importance of the role played by the Vanuatu Qualifications Authority (VQA) in ensuring standards are met for vocational training and assessment: “Vanuatu is small, but it is important that we connect with the region and world, and we can do that by prioritising quality standards.”

Delivered in 43 days, the accredited training has equipped the plumbers with skills to conduct WASH related community awareness, monitoring and maintenance of community water systems, installation of water pumps and piping systems, and installation of sanitation drainage systems. In the practical sessions, the trainees demonstrated their newly acquired skills in improving the piping system and repairing leakage at the Sarakata Anglican Centre. They also resolved a long-standing low water pressure issue at Saint Michel School, which previously could only access water three hours per day; with the instalment of a new water pump, and repairs of the piping system and reservoir, water is now continually ‘on tap’.

Reverend James Tama, Bishop of the Diocese of Vanuatu and New Caledonia, said ACOMVETS appreciated the consistent support of partners. “ACOMVETS has undergone restructuring to meet the reform requirements of the MoET and registered as a training provider in 2019 with the VQA to deliver nationally accredited courses. This graduation ceremony shows the result of the strong partnerships that have enabled us to reach this level, including through MoET, VSP, and APTC.”

Speaking on behalf of the 14 graduates, certified plumber, Mr Rogatien Andre, applauded the organisations and individuals who all contributed to their achievement. “I would like to acknowledge the work of all partners to enable this standard of training to be available in Luganville, SANMA Province. I would also like to thank lead trainer, Mr. James Matariki, for his team building approach with the trainees. I would like to announce that we now have a registered plumbing association, ‘Northern Plumbers’ Association’, and we will work to meet all formal requirements to establish a plumbing business. We look forward to using our skills to improving water supply and sanitation in SANMA.”

The newly developed Certificate II in Plumbing training package was handed over to the VQA CEO, Mr David Lambukly, by APTC Regional Country Director, Mrs Anna Naupa, as a certified training package that local training providers can now use in the future. Mrs Naupa recognised the partnerships forged to develop the training package. “I acknowledge the efforts of partners including VSP, ACOMVETS and APTC to support the development of the training package with the guidance of the VQA. This proves that, as a country, we can collectively work together to improve skills development with training packages tailored to meet a national and international standard.”

The VSP is a joint investment between the Government of Vanuatu and the Government of Australia.

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