Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations Agni Deo Singh.
The Ministry of Employment and Industrial Relations is now exploring means of reopening some of the technical colleges to provide technical and vocational training.
Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations Agni Deo Singh says they need to start thinking about other mechanisms to upskill Fijians and retain them in the country.
Singh says they will work closely with other stakeholders to put in place the necessary skills training, technical vocational training competency, efficiency, and apprenticeship schemes to accomplish this.
The Employment Minister says around 29 technical colleges were opened less than a decade ago with an investment of $40 million, but these colleges were closed within a few years.
”Very smartly, the technical colleges were passed onto the Fiji National University without the necessary funding, and because the Fiji National University was not provided with funding, it was compelled to close. That’s exactly what the director of human resources for the technical college shared with me because we had 200 members who were laid off straight after that”.
Singh says brain drain and loss of skilled labor remains a crucial issue for the country which needs to be addressed.
According to Asian Development Bank’s Pacific Economic Monitor released in December, more Fijians departed for emigration and employment purposes in Australia and the US in the first ten months of 2022 than the annual figures since 2016.
The report also states that as of mid-2019, more than 222,000 Fiji-born people resided abroad, with 95 percent living in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, or the United States.