‘Invest in youths’

Korean students perform to the song Pate Pate at the official opening of the International Youth Fellowship at Thurston Gardens. Picture: SUPPLIED

TO continue Fiji’s unbroken economic growth rate at this impressive rate, we need to invest in the skills and education of our young people, to develop them into the leaders of tomorrow, says Fiji National University vice-chancellor Professor Nigel Healey. Prof Healey said majority of the students from FNU were able to secure paid employment within four months of completing their studies.

He made the statement at the opening of the International Youth Fellowship (IYF) World Culture Camp in Suva on Monday night.

Prof Healey said graduate employability was important as it indicated how the institution was performing in terms of meeting the employment demand.

“FNU is a vocational, dual-sector university and we have put great emphasis on the importance of achieving high rates of graduate employability,” said Prof Healey.

“Our surveys of students graduating each April, roughly four months after they completed their studies, show that 80-90 per cent consistently report being in paid employment and this is in line with many developed countries. So this is a good sign for students who are intending to join the FNU.”

He said as Fiji’s national university, the FNU shared the noble vision.

“Fiji has a large population of young people. “Half our population is under the age of 29. Fiji is currently in our ninth year of unbroken economic growth.”

He said the university was proud to partner with IYF once again as it shared its noble vision of creating a better educated society.

IYF was established as a worldwide youth organisation and international non-governmental organisation by Pastor Ock Soo Park in South Korea in 2001.

The statement said educating young people created a highly skilled and productive labour force in South Korea, allowing the development of household name companies such as Samsung, Hyundai, Kia and LG to innovate and export to the rest of the world.

Tertiary education in South Korea is made relevant for the needs of business and its colleges and universities have fostered very close links with the major employers.

“Fiji is on a similar journey of investment in the education of our young people, which is underpinning our rapid economic growth. “Back in 2006, only about 16 per cent of Fiji’s school leavers went on to tertiary education,” said Prof Healey.

“Twelve years later, with the establishment of FNU as the country’s national university in 2010 and the introduction of the Tertiary Education Loans Scheme (TELS) to cover tuition fees and living costs in 2014, the percentage of young people who enrol in tertiary education has leapt to 60 per cent which is a four-fold increase.”

The IYF Fiji Camp will be held for three days. The FNU team will be present during the three-day event to provide academic counselling to students and the general public.