The Minister of Employment, Productivity & Industrial Relations, Jone Usamate made these comments while speaking at the CAFF and NTPC graduation at Novotel Entertainment Centre, Lami.
“I want to see a growth in young graduates taking up trade areas and even exploring youth entrepreneurship,” said Usamate.
“Unemployment is a major challenge of our time. Here in Fiji, unemployment is now down to 5.5 percent, which is the lowest it has been in 15 years. A significant portion of our workforce is engaged in informal work or in subsistence economy.”
The Minister urged tertiary providers to be innovative and find ways to ensure they are producing the right kind of graduates that the industries need.
“Be prepared to look ahead and to forecast future competency profiles and develop programmes and systems that meet those needs.”
He also urged the tertiary institutions to work constantly with the Higher Education Commission to ensure that they deliver the right kind of skilled workers in this country.
One hundred thirty-two students graduated from CAFF in 11 different programmes.
Usamate urged the graduates of CAFF to make a significant contribution to agricultural advancement in the country particularly in areas of research.
“Fiji needs huge improvement in agricultural productivity. Fiji needs you to be part of that effort to improve agricultural productivity, whether it is a farmer, a researcher or a bureaucrat,” said the Minister.
“We need more commercial farmers. We need consistency of supply and consistency of quality in all our agricultural, fisheries and forestry products. You are called upon to be part of that.”
The lone graduate of Trade Diploma in Wood Processing and Value Adding, Tomasi Lia was overwhelmed to have finally achieved his dream.
“My particular interest of how wastage can be minimised in the wood processing industry led me to pursue this career. I am looking forward to joining the workforce and applying the skills that I have learnt from CAFF.”
Lia’s father, Mr Paula Tikoicina said “it is all because of my son’s sacrifices and hard work that I am a very proud father today.”
One hundred forty-seven students graduated from NTPC. Four students graduated with National Safety Council of Australia certificates, 15 students with Australian Institute of Management certificates and 128 students with TAFE NSW certificates.
Minister Usamate applauded the recent introduction of new programmes by NTPC such as Diploma of Project Management from Australia Institute of Management and Diploma of Human Resource Management from TAFE NSW.
“I also commend NTPC for the continuous capital development projects undertaken to meet international standards in terms of training facilities. Effective training requires the right kind of teaching environment, the right quality of teachers and the right facilities and equipment,” said Hon Usamate.
This year marks 19 years of strategic partnership between NTPC and TAFE. This partnership enables NTPC to offer specific industry programmes which are skilled based and relevant. Also, the programmes allow for stringent quality assurance process leading to compliance and quality.
Meanwhile, sleepless nights to keep up with the University studies finally paid off for Filimoni Lolovo Nawara as he received the Statement of Excellence in Diploma of Information Technology (Networking) award.
Tears flowed as the Ra lad explained his excitement to have finally achieved a qualification in his dream career.
“Networking has always been my passion. As I look back in at my university life, I do not regret the sacrifices I had to make in order to achieve my dream qualification.”