AUSTRALIA and New Zealand should open their labour markets for graduates of the Australia-Pacific Technic College (APTC).
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare uttered this during an APTC graduation ceremony on Tuesday in Honiara that saw 185 Solomon Islanders graduating in various technical courses.
Mr Sogavare said one of the goals of APTC is “employment”, which is intended that Pacific Islander men and women with Australian qualifications have improved employment opportunities nationally, regionally and internationally.
“Whilst the intention behind the establishment of APTC is to address the shortage of suitably qualified industry and trades men and women within the Pacific Islands region, the option to further these training opportunities and potentially future employment beyond the island countries themselves should also be seriously considered and explored,” Mr Sogavare said.
“With such a competitive programme based on Australian TVET certified standards, I wonder if it is also possible for arrangements to be in place for APTC graduates from Solomon Islands and indeed other Pacific countries to find apprenticeship and work placements in Australia and possibly New Zealand as well,” he added.
“This will no doubt add further value to their knowledge and skills based training in an otherwise more advanced social and economic environment.”
Mr Sogavare said he’s aware of the current RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer) scheme by both Australia and New Zealand.
“But this scheme is targeted at a semi-skilled and un-skilled labour force.
“The benefits and rewards of the scheme to both Australia and New Zealand and the participating island countries, including the individuals themselves and their families, are common knowledge.
“So perhaps, it is time that a similar arrangement could be considered within the purview of the current APTC programme,” Mr Sogavare said.
Since the establishment of APTC eight years ago, more than 790 Solomon Islands students have graduated from this Australian government funded institution.
Those who graduated yesterday received certificates in Automotive, Construction, Carpentry, Early Childhood Education, Electro-technology, Diesel Fitting, Metal Fabrication, Formwork, Home and Community Aged Care, Hospitality, Light Vehicle Mechanical, Painting and Decorating, Plumbing, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, Wall and Floor Tiling, Training and Assessment, and Youth Work.
By BIRIAU WILSON SAENI