Five-Year Initiative To Build Skills To Promote Development In Tonga Launched

Australia invests $3.2 million in effort to get 'economy rolling'

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, May 2, 2017) – A $7.5 million [US$3.2 million] Tonga Skills programme funded by Australia aims to develop the skills Tonga needs to get its economy rolling. A steering committee met for the first time yesterday, and will work toward setting up a national skills development system, with the Deputy Prime Minister Hon Siaosi Sovaleni as chairman.

In January 25 this year the five-year initiative funded by the Australian Government was launched in Nuku’alofa, to address the lack of skills and improve access to quality skills development services, linked to economic development priorities and growth opportunities throughout Tonga.

The committee is to provide strategic advice and support to the program and coordinate skills development nationally. The program officially started in October last year and part of their work was to set up the steering committee for skills sector in Tonga. The Australian High Commissioner HE Mr Andrew Ford attended the first meeting on May 1.

Skills gaps

Anthony Bailey, Program Director and Contractor Representative for Tonga Skills said committee members represented the private sector, government ministries, NGO, community sectors and Tonga Chamber of Commerce.

"We are now starting work on identifying skills demand and skills gaps. Tonga Skills will faciliate the training and we help to identify the economic opportuniies, work with training providers and business coaches to deliver the skills.

"For example in tourism, there might be a need for business development skills for people to take their businesses to the next level, moving from the informal to formal economy, so Tonga Skills will facilitate the training provider under a business coach to deliver those skills," he said.

He said skills training would be carried out by any registered training providers such as 'Ahopanilolo Techical Institute, TIST and others, which would earn participants a national qualification under the Tonga National Qualifications and Accrediation Board (TNQAB), providing a pathway to employment not only here in Tonga but abroad.

"We've already got some training proposals under consideration to facilitate the training to start sometime this year."

"Trainers will be locals but if there is need for support, we could create partnership between local and international institutes, which will help the local institute build their skills and knowledge to deliver those courses.

"In addition, Tonga Skills will be able to help facilitate private training providers to become registered under TNQAB and deliver training in niche areas of a speciifc skill. We are aiming to increase the number of training providers to include private so as to help this system be more sustainable," he said.

Skills demand

Mr Bailey said they had done a lot of desk and field research and identified skills in demand like business leadership skills, technical skills in horticulture and marketing.

"In horticulture, we will look at increasing skills in vanilla productuion, handicrafts is also another area. We will align our skills development with the Tonga Strategic Development Framework," he said.

"Our overall aim is to support inclusive economic growth in Tonga. But there are also three key result areas that we aim for, which includes strengthening coordination and planning for skills development, strengthen skill supply by working with the training providers to help improve the quality of their skills, and the quality of the training they provide, he said.

He said there is no formal connection with the PACER Plus Trade Agreement, but Tonga Skills could facilitate to increase skills for labour mobility, then there is connection.

It will link with other regional programs like the labour mobility and seasonal workers program, and is also developing an understanding with the Ministry of Internal Affairs to offer a seasonal workers training program.

"There is a need to prepare the seasonal workers before they go overseas so that they make the most advantage of that employment. The workers then come back, do follow up training and put the skills learnt to generate income here," he said.

The meeting was held at the Tanoa International Dateline Hotel.

Matangi Tonga Magazine
Copyright © 2017 Matangi Tonga. All Rights Reserved

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment