Business and unions join forces to help Pacific neighbours

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ACTU President Ged Kearney (right) with Ephraim Kalsakua, General Secretary of the National Workers Union of Vanuatu (centre) and ACCI's Peter Anderson at the Pacific Growth and Employment Project launch in Canberra. Photo by Andrew Campbell
27 November, 2012 | Media Release The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) and the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) today announced the launch of a new project designed to improve vocational skills and employment opportunities for young people and their families in the Pacific Island Countries. The project will be piloted in Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.

Research clearly shows the decisive factor lifting families from poverty is a household member finding a job. Unfortunately, unemployment rates in the Pacific remain high, and access to skills development and vocational training is limited. Unemployment and underemployment of the region's youth are particularly challenging.

This is an entrenched problem which, in many cases, leads to increased poverty, social unrest and community disengagement.

In launching the Pacific Growth and Employment Project, the ACTU and ACCI noted the importance of enhancing skills and employment opportunities for the people in the Pacific. The private sector is the engine of economic growth and drives poverty reduction by creating jobs.

Australia is the region's main economic partner, a major security partner and the leading aid donor. Australia provides half of all global Official Development Assistance to Papua New Guinea and Pacific Island countries to overcome poverty and build stability in the region.

Implemented by the ILO through the Australian Government - ILO Partnership Agreement (2010 - 2015), the (AUD) $1.2 million project is financed by the Australian Government.

The project is being delivered by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) and the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU). The two organisations have united to provide their technical expertise in meeting the project's objectives and have been contracted by the ILO to manage the project.

"The Project's aim is to grow employment in transport and tourism through engagement and co-operation with industry leaders, governments and industrial bodies," said Ms Ged Kearney, President of the ACTU.

"The ACCI believes that Australian industry not only has a responsibility in the region, but is also very well placed to guide the governments and institutions in the preparation of the islands' youth for work, and the growth of employment opportunities," said Mr Peter Anderson, Chief Executive of ACCI.

"The ILO welcomes the joint efforts of the ACCI and ACTU in initiating and managing this project. It shows yet again the importance of dialogue and what can be achieved through worker-employer cooperation," said Mr Yoshiteru Uramoto, Regional Director of the ILO's Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.

"This project also demonstrates how collectively sharing expertise with practitioners in other Asia-Pacific countries can lead to better regional collaboration in general and accelerate the drive to achieve decent work for all."

The project will be piloted in the transport sector in Papua New Guinea, and the tourism sector in Vanuatu.

Contact Details
Nick Blake
Mob: 0419 523 740
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