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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, May 31) – Three university graduates in Papua New Guinea are turning to vocational training in their desperation to find work.

This is unheard of in Papua New Guinea and shows the unemployment picture of the country in a telling way.

It is also a huge boost for vocational training, which has been seen as an alternative for school drop-outs.

Northern Province Acting Administrator Ross Ungaia revealed the "shocking" move by the three university graduates during the closing ceremony of a two-week technical and vocational training (TVET) workshop in Popondetta on Friday.

The move also underlines the fact that up to 50,000 students are being pushed out of the education system each year with no prospect of employment.

Mr Ungaia said although the move by the three people (whom he did not name) might shock people, Northern had led PNG in new grounds before. He called on the Education Department to upgrade the vocational centre to technical schools level to be "in the picture of what is to come’’.

"It is clear what is in the minds of these people; they want life skills, there is a niche for cottage industry," Mr Ungaia said.

The people of Northern Province are also making more money now from oil palm production and see the need for technical training to take advantage of spin-off business activities in the province.

Mr Ungaia said if the Kokoda airstrip was upgraded to take larger aircraft and the tourist traffic volume rose, the vocational centre there could be also upgraded to take advantage of that by teaching hospitality and catering courses.

The TVET workshop was the second in the country, to implement reforms under the Government’s medium term development strategy. The first was in West Sepik.

It produced two documents — the curriculum overview which is the TVET needs of Northern and the Public Investment Project — to assist the province seek donor funding to implement the overview.

First assistant secretary of Human Resource Development, national Department of Education Patrick Modakewau, who closed the workshop, said: "The onus is now on us as training providers to venture into relevant skills training and education to enable our people to be productive, self-reliant, gainfully employed, assist in transfer of skills and provide community leadership."

June 1, 2005

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