AT the closure of the two-week Worker Ready Pool (WRP) recruitment drive launched by the Labour Mobility Unit (LMU) on Friday 10th March, more than 15,000 Solomon Islanders have submitted their applications.
It is a huge number.
It sends a clear message to our leaders, the government and donors that our unemployment rate remains high.
It means more and more people are desperate to get a job overseas to support themselves and their families.
The positive benefits gained under the Labour Mobility Scheme from those working in Australia and New Zealand have lured so many of our people to be recruited as well.
The number of people applying for passports is also an indication that our locals are struggling to get a chance to be recruited for seasonal work.
Apart from the jobless who have applied, there are also skilled and qualified workers who have no jobs in the country and have opted to go for seasonal work.
Indeed, the deciding factor is the financial gain from the job.
For example, a security officer decides to quit his job here because he only earns SBD$400 per week. In Australia, he will earn SBD$2000 per week if employed as a seasonal worker.
A teacher earns around $600 in a week but in Australia, he/she can earn around $2000 to $2500 per week from seasonal work.
That is a lot of money and it is what is attracting even the employed in Solomon Islands to leave their jobs.
The Government plans to have about 10,000 Solomon Islanders in Australia by next year or so.
And this latest figure means more locals are interested to go overseas to work in farms to help raise their families’ standard of living.
The high unemployment rate in this country will not be solved due to our dramatic population growth rate.
Not only that, as more youths drop out of the Formal Education system each year, they are bound to join the unemployment sector.
Thus, the Labour Mobility Scheme is the hope for many of our youths.
Given the high number of applicants, the government needs to ask both the New Zealand and Australian Governments to increase the quota so that more of our people can go overseas to work.
15,000 is a big number and so it is important for the government to clear the current lot first through proper screening before sending them to both countries depending on their requests.
The risk associated with such mass job offer overseas is that we may soon be losing some of our qualified people.
Very soon our classrooms and clinics we will be empty. Who knows but that can be a reality in the future.
And there should be some review on the scheme to ensure only those who are truly jobless are recruitment because they truly need jobs.
Let us continue to thank both the Australia and New Zealand for their generosity in offering the opportunity for our people and other Pacific Islanders to secure a job in their countries.
To those who have applied and are waiting for the results of their applications which are expected to come out later next month, all the best in your applications.
Your dream to get a job is now a step closer once you are recruited.