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Australia repositions Australia Pacific Technical College to complement Pacific Labour Scheme, says Bishop

Australia says its seasonal worker programme in the Pacific has been a ‘real success.’

Driven by demand from Australia’s regions, it’s grown from a little over 1,000 workers in 2013 to close to 8,000 last year, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop.

“Already 25,000 workers have generated about AU$145 million (US$107 million) in net income to the Pacific since the programme commenced.”

“What is great about the scheme is that it fills Australian employment gap while also supporting Pacific Islanders gain skills and supporting their economies by way of increased remittances to communities,” Bishop told Australia Pacific Partnership conference in Queensland earlier this month.

The sectors of primary focus under the work scheme include hospitality, food services, health, aged care and social assistance.

“Demands for jobs from employers in these sectors are expected to grow between 100,000 to 250,000 positions during the next four years. Other sectors include non-seasonal agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

To complement the Pacific Labour Scheme, Bishop announced the re-orientation of the Australia Pacific Technical College (APTC) – to allow Pacific Islanders who want to work in Australia to develop skills they need.

“Set up over a decade ago under the Howard Government to deliver Australia qualifications to students from 14 Pacific Island Countries studying across five different campuses. There have been more than 12,000 graduates including more than 5,000 women and 80 percent of graduates end up working in their qualified trade, said Bishop.

She announced that TAFE Queensland has won the tender for the next phase of APTC, so that it can continue to grow a pool of skilled and competitive Pacific workers who participate in their own labour markets, as well as taking advantage of the wider regional opportunities created by the Pacific Labour Scheme.

Workers from Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu have started work on Hayman and Hamilton Islands in North Queensland, as part of Turnbull Government’s newest Pacific Labour Mobility initiative which commenced this month.

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