Pacific needs upskilling its workers to meet international demand


By Pita Ligaiula in Port Vila

There is a great need to upskill Pacific workers to enable them to enter the Australian market, according to Pacific Trade & Investment Commissioner to Australia, Caleb Jarvis.

“In Australia, we need workers and Pacific countries are well placed to provide workers.

“I think we need to upskill Pacific Islanders more to go and do better quality work in Australia.

“I tell people in TVET type organisations training in tourism, hospitality, aged care, disability care and nursing to raise the bar in terms of skills that the Pacific can offer in international markets,” he said.

Jarvis said in the short term, globally there is a chronic shortage of labour in many different sectors.

“But I still think in the long run, that it’s still a good opportunity to create a more open labour market between Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand, in particular.

“A lot of it relies on better quality education, better skills training in the Pacific. Let’s export a better quality of workers in the region and globally ready to work. They can have an international experience, they can get more training, and then they come back into the Pacific so we’re not relying on expat sous chefs and the likes, you know.

Jarvis said there is a great demand for workers in Australia.

“In Australia, our transport sector is completely hopeless at the moment, because we can’t get enough workers. There’s vacancies for 75-80,000 cooks in Australia. And when I say cooks, I mean the second and third chef in the kitchen, who cut the carrots and onions and do the basic food preparation work.

Jarvis said when they did their earlier surveys, labour mobility, labour issues, were really a big challenge for Pacific Island.