PNG Workforce Reportedly Lacks Trade Skills

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Higher education official: one out of three ‘totally unqualified’

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Dec. 19, 2013) – Papua New Guinea is short of trade skills by nearly 30%, the director general for the Office of Higher Education Prof David Kavanamur said yesterday.

The figure was derived from a recent assessment, he said.

Speaking at a Technical and Vocational Educational graduation, Kavanamur said the assessment was indicted by Labour Market Assessment and conducted by the Office of Higher Education (OHE) and Department of National Planning and Monitoring in 2010.

"The deficit means that for every three persons occupying the job, one is totally unqualified.

"In specific trades, the deficit is much higher. For instance, the recent LNG project workforce requirements indicated a huge trade skills deficit in welding, heavy equipment fitters and mechanics and a number of other trade skills."

Kavanamur said specific examples were that in PNG in 2010, there were only two lift technicians for over 100 high rise buildings in the country.

He said in 2010, fewer than 200 graduates from technical colleges were in the trade skills area and since Pre-Employment Technical Training from 1990, trades skills had reduced considerably.

It was a critical need for domestic marketing for tradespersons and to improve technical qualifications, Kavanamur stressed.

"To meet the gap and deficits, there had to be immediate improvement of technical colleges to produce the variety, quantity and quality of graduates that the industry demanded."

Kavanamur said the need for skilled trade people for even the basic skills jobs was now proximate which called for an immediate contingency arrangement to be made.

"The obvious strategy is to train people in Australia and elsewhere, where capacity currently exists. This is reasonable while we build up capacity in our existing colleges over the next five to 10 years."

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