23 Complete Horticultural Training At Tonga Institute

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Program meant to prepare graduates for overseas work scheme

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Sept. 30, 2013) – Twenty-three Tongan graduates, including current fruit pickers under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Scheme to New Zealand, received their National Certificate in Horticulture during an inaugural graduation ceremony held last week, at the Tonga Maritime Polytechnic Institute compound in ‘Anana, Tonga.

The students completed the 12-weeks in-country training program Ola ‘o e Fonua, achieving NZQA approved National Certificate in Horticulture (Practical) Level One.

The Minister for Education and Training Hon. Dr. ‘Ana Taufe’ulungaki awarded the certificates at the graduation ceremony, attended by facilitators and many guests.

The graduates included fruit pickers who are currently employed by Tonga’s Ministry of Internal Affairs as RSE workers. Others have expressed their aim to apply for the RSE program while some are currently working at the Ministry of Agriculture.

Training

Christine Newland the Project Leader and Research Manager of New Zealand Primary Industry Training Organisation (ITO) said the graduates could go to New Zealand under the RSE scheme and continue training and gain further skills and qualifications or they could remain in Tonga and use their skills to further their career or carry on training, and establish a business or grow more food.

She said part of the program's vision from their perspective was to give back to RSE workers.

"Without RSE workers in New Zealand the horticulture industry will fall over. A recent research report on RSE workers in NZ who were interviewed and were training and working under the scheme were interested in participating in the National Horticulture Certificate Level One and indicated they would apply for a temporary seasonal work visa in the future," she said.

Skills

Fatuimoana Langilangi the program coordinator said one of the aims of the program was to train and equip people who will be employed under RSE to have proper knowledge and skills to do the work while upskilling students or workers in the horticulture industry to achieve a certified national and international standard, he said.

The students were selected from 69 applicants who applied and registered in the RSE program. After an interview and a literacy and numeracy test the course accepted an initial 26, 19 men and seven women. Three students dropped the course for different reasons, leaving the 23 graduates, he said.

The resources were supplied from New Zealand while the training was conducted at the Forestry Division of the Ministry of Agriculture at Tokomololo and the Tonga Maritime Polytechnic Institute (Fokololo ‘a e Hau).

The New Zealand Primary Industry Training Organisation (ITO) was the lead project organisation with Tonga's Ministry of Internal Affairs as the lead Tonga Organisation. Project partners included the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, WHO and Ako Aotearoa New Zealand among others and supported by the New Zealand High Commissioner in Tonga.

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