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Many lessons to learn from Pacific Labour Mobility

July 8, 2019 7:32 am

Seasonal work programs in the Pacific accounts for more than 25 000 Pacific Island workers taking up work in Australia and New Zealand.

For Fiji, since 2015, more than 2 200 Fijians have participated in the schemes working between six to eight months at any one time.

Professor Stephen Howes, Director for the Economic Policy Centre at the Australian National University says that Labour Mobility is potentially a $20 billion industry for the region.

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“There is a lot of growing interest in that subject, these seasonal workers schemes that didn’t exist just 12 years ago, they’re now taking 25 000 workers from the Pacific to Australia and New Zealand, just about every Pacific Island Country is participating in the scheme.”

Speaking at the 2019 Pacific Update on Friday, Professor Howes says the program has now expanded to 11 Pacific Island Countries sending their nationals to work for up to eight months a year in either Australia or New Zealand.

For Fiji, the Pacific Update forum was an opportunity to learn from other countries involved in the program much longer with Fiji joining in 2015.

Vilimone Baledrokadroka, Deputy Secretary Technical from the Ministry of Employment says since joining the seasonal work program, 2 262 Fijians have benefited from working in New Zealand and Australia.

He says the deliberations at the conference offered Fiji an opportunity to learn from Vanuatu who have the biggest number of workers in the program and account for around 40 percent of Pacific Labour Mobility.

Currently there are 421 Fijians working in New Zealand and 256 in Australia.

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