Australian Government Launches Five-Year Tonga Skills Development Program

Program to improve employment, entrepreneur skills to boost development

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Jan. 26, 2017) – An AUD $7.5 million [US$5.7 million] initiative to establish a skills development system for Tonga was launched yesterday morning, 25 January at the Fa’onelua Convention Centre, Nuku’alofa.

Tonga Skills is a five-year initiative of the Australian Government, seeking to address the lack of access to quality skills development services, which are linked to economic development priorities and growth opportunities across Tonga.

Keynote speakers at the launch were HE Mr Andrew Ford, the Australian High Commissioner to Tonga; Claude Tupou, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Education and Training, and Dr ‘Uhila-Mo e-Langi Fasi, the team leader of the Tonga Skills for Inclusive Economic Growth Program (Tonga Skills).

Mr Ford, said that the program is based on lessons learned from two previous Australian funded programs conducted with the ‘Ahopanilolo Technical College and the Pacific Sunrise Fishing.

Meletina Hiliate, the Deputy Principal of ‘Ahopanilolo, and Rosemarie Palu from Pacific Sunrise Fishing, made presentations highlighting the program's important contribution to the upgrading of the skills of students/workers and the development of their operations.

The program is managed by Scope Global, based in Adelaide, Australia. The Tongan operation is under the leadership of Dr ‘Uhila-Mo e-Langi Fasi.

The objective of the project is to achieve improved economic outcomes for individuals and businesses, including those who are disadvantaged, and ensure such outcomes are sustained locally through systemic change in the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) sector in Tonga. This could be achieved by improving people’s livelihoods and employability, as a result of skills development and business development support.

The program aims to:

  • Improve the employability of participants in national and overseas labour markets Increase productivity in the workplace and potential for earning higher incomes.
  • Provide increased access to entrepreneurial skills to complement technical training for micro, small and medium enterprises.
  • Provide equitable access to skills development services for people with  disabilities, women and people in the outer islands.
  • Establish new training models to influence reforms in the national TVET sector.

The program will focus on three outcome areas:

  1. Participants improve livelihoods.
  2. Micro, small and medium enterprises increase their business opportunities and incomes.
  3. A more coordinated, responsive, flexible and inclusive national skill development system is established in Tonga.

The first phase of the project is to identify the actual needs of the community, then to consult with existing training institutes and set up training programs.

Tonga Skills is already working closely with both the Ministry of Education and Training and the Tonga National Qualifications and Accreditation Board.

Telusa Tu’i’onetoa from the Australian High Commission expected that the actual training program will be launched in May or June.

Matangi Tonga Magazine
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