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Labour market

Monika Singh
Wednesday, June 21, 2017

THERE is a need for policy makers to concentrate on helping disadvantaged job seekers and to prepare them for work, says a report that was released by the International Labour Organisation yesterday.

The report "Improving labour market outcomes in the Pacific - policy changes and priorities" is a result of a study that was co-ordinated and prepared by Sameer Khatiwada, who is the employment specialist with the Decent Work Technical Support Team for East and South East Asia and the Pacific.

The study report said there were challenges and opportunities for Pacific Island labour markets, but questions such as workers' protection, geographical isolation and connectivity needed to be answered.

One of the recommendations from the report said though Fiji had public employment services they still struggled to connect jobseekers with available jobs.

The report said the public employment sector could overcome this by including job-ready training for young people with low education levels living in large urban areas.

It said this would first involve identifying unsuccessful job applicants in lower-skilled occupations and tailoring services to their need.

Mr Khatiwada said the study showed PICs had struggled to sustain economic growth despite an expanding young workforce and generally sound economic policies.

However, he said, it was important to note that each Pacific Island had its own set of challenges.

He said statistics showed that recent (2011-16) growth performance had been stronger than before (2000-10).

But challenges remained in terms of lack of diversification; reliance on few key sectors; inflow of development aid and reliance on remittances; and vulnerability to external shocks.

Meanwhile, Mr Khatiwada said the study also highlighted the gender disparities in labour force participation rates.

Statistics from the study show that the labour force participation rate for Fiji stood at 54 per cent out of which 71 per cent were men while 37 per cent were women.

Mr Khatiwada said it was important to close that gender gap in the workforce.

He said another concern highlighted by the study was not enough jobs were being created.

In Fiji's case every year 17,000 people entered the workforce looking for formal employment but the new jobs that were created just totalled 600.

In this regard, he said the study recommended policy makers should commit to providing an environment that contributed to a competitive and robust private sector without sacrificing worker protection.

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