National employment policy focuses on youths

Permanent Secretary for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations Salaseini Daunabuna with other stake holders cut the cake during the launch of Fiji's National Employment Policy 2018 at GPH on Friday night. Picture: RAMA

GOVERNMENT will be looking at policies on policies on green job skills and provide career guidance to students on green jobs.

Under Fiji’s first ever National Employment Policy, this is among 10 priority areas which will be implemented.

Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations Jone Usamate highlighted this while launching the policy in Suva.

While the high youth unemployment rate will be the first priority focus, Mr Usamate said it was critical to look at policies on policies on green job as part of our commitment to the SDGs and in our role as COP23 President.

“It is critical to boost action on Just Transition of the workforce towards environmentally sustainable economies while creating decent work and quality jobs,” he said.

In 2010 Fiji ratified the ILO Employment Policy Convention committing to developing and implementing a National Employment Policy for Fiji.

In 2017 the NEC Board began the work of formulating a National Employment Policy.

The National Employment Policy is based on the notion of “Moving Fiji Forward” and recognizes that economic growth alone is not enough to meet the challenge of increasing employment opportunities.

The policy will firstly look at creating more opportunities for the young to follow clear pathways from education to employment.

“We will look at creating closer ties between education providers and training providers, reforming the apprenticeship scheme, resourcing the National Employment Centre, promoting self-employment and volunteer work for the young and promoting work attachments,” Mr Usamate said.

“Private investment is also an important aspect to creating jobs and we will be looking at ways of improving Fiji’s international ranking in Doing Business.”

With Government’s commitment towards graduates being job creators, Mr Usamate said the NEP would promote self-employment to be able to establish and sustain a business and ensure financial survival and increase access to credit by small businesses.

“We have seen the benefits of our overseas employment programmes where we have sent our workers to Australia, New Zealand and the neighbouring Pacific Region,” Mr Usamate said.

“Under the NEP we are looking to promote and grow access to overseas employment opportunities and look forward to forming partnerships with countries and international entities to grow our labour market access and reach.”

Mr Usamate said having a proper regulatory framework was important for the informal economy, which is also another priority under the NEP.

“And at the same time, those working in the informal economy should be encouraged to graduate to and operate in the formal economy,” he said.

“If we look at the labour force in Fiji there is a high level of informal employment supported by subsistence activities.”

The NEP will also be looking at creating more income generating opportunities for those relying on subsistence activities for their livelihood and creating better access to credit for those earning a stable income in the informal economy.

In terms of gender, Mr Usamate said they hoped that under the NEP they would be able to create greater gender equality in employment and working conditions.

In the 2017 Census there was a marked difference in gender labour force participation where the labour force participation for males was 76.4 per cent compared with females at 37.4 per cent.

“Under the NEP we will be looking at policies to make it easier for women with children to enter paid work and address gender pay gap in Fiji,” Mr Usamate said.

Persons with disabilities and finding meaningful employment also feature in the NEP.

Mr Usamate said this was due to the recognition that people with disabilities had limited opportunities for employment calling for appropriate policies, improved access to workplaces, relevant skills training, and better enforcement of the 2 per cent employment quota of persons with disabilities in workplaces with 50 or more workers.

“Children and employment are also important to tackle and we will be increasing awareness on the negative impacts of child labour in the drive to achieve our broader vision of creating a ‘Child Labour Free Fiji’,” Mr Usamate said.

“Finally we will be looking at strengthening good faith employment relations and promoting safe and productivity-driven workplaces.”

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