Tackling skills shortages in Fiji through TVET

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Fiji is one of the most developed of the Pacific island economies – with its $1.64 billion GDP, generated by a workforce of just 335,000.  In 2012, Fiji’s economy rose by 2.5%, followed by a 2.7% growth in 2013, with agriculture, manufacturing and financial intermediation sectors the key forces behind this growth.

Sugar, textile exports, timber and still mineral water were traditional drivers of the Fiji economy up until recently, with the tourism industry now leading the way.  The country’s gross earnings from tourism in 2011 totalled $1.051 billion, more than the combined revenues of the country’s top five exports – fish, water, garments, timber and gold.Suva

Tourism and the Fiji economy

According to the Economic Impact, travel and tourism contributed to 13.8% of the total GDP and is forecast to rise by 5.1% pa during 2014-2024, to 18.7% of total GDP in 2024.

In 2013 Fiji’s tourism industry supported 43,000 jobs – 12.4% of total employment.  This figure is also expected to rise by 3.3% pa to 63,000 jobs (17.1% of total employment) by 2024.

Some big numbers…

But it’s not all surf, sunshine and sand.  Fiji is suffering a skills shortage.

Fiji Employers Federation CEO Nesbit Hazelman says the construction industry in particular is experiencing a boom, but many of the workers with the technical skills needed, have migrated in recent years.

Despite tremendous economic growth in Asia-Pacific over the past decade, millions of the regions’ young find themselves unemployed or underemployed, lacking the skills they need to find meaningful jobs to contribute to more sustainable societies.

A key pillar of a better future is education and training.

Bridging the education gap through TVET

To date, there’s been a disparity in education: basic skills opportunities at one end in private colleges… and advanced skills at the other at the Fiji National University.

The region has identified a much broader access in the middle to level two technical qualifications – Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).

Education ministers throughout Asia-Pacific have recently gathered for a high-level policy discussion on how TVET can change this.

The overarching aim of this conference is to leverage the tremendous potential of TVET policies, to better link the skills acquired by learners with those needed in the labour markets – and one of the places, in the spotlight was Fiji.

Efforts are underway to boost technical training for Fijians.

A two-day forum brought education stakeholders from seven nations in the Pacific together to discuss financing systems for tertiary institutions.

“The research findings and resulting discussions at this forum help to identify priority actions to narrow skills gaps, combat unemployment rates and ensure TVET courses are relevant and of high quality,” observed Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade counsellor Sheona McKenna.

Technical Vocational Education and Training in Fiji is undergoing major reforms, where workforce development can help support the up skilling of local youth – and combat high unemployment.

If you’d like to talk to have a chat about how TVET can address skills shortages in your region, contact Wendy Perry via wendy@wb.switchstartscale.com.au.

October 2015

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