The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade has organized a Consultation on Pacific Regional Labour Mobility (PRLMS) in Honiara last week.
The consultation was facilitated by a visiting delegation from the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat (PIFS) office in Suva, Fiji. It brough together representatives of diplomatic missions, senior government officials, participants from the private sector and non-governmental organisations. Joining the consultation virtually included representatives from PIFS and International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) had been tasked by the Forum Trade Ministers in 2021 to undertake a comprehensive labour mobility assessment and one of the recommendations is to develop a Pacific Regional Labour Mobility Strategy (PRLMS).
In delivering the opening address during the start of the consultation, Director of External Trade in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Natalia Patternot said the Labour Mobility Unit (LMU) within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade as the division facilitating labour mobility through formal arrangements with Australia and New Zealand embraces these transcending initiatives to help harness labour mobility to the people of Solomon Islands.
She acknowledges the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat’s (PIFS) enduring support in organising this discussion.
“We appreciate all the stakeholders who are present today and value your insights and contributions in this discussion,” She added.
Labour mobility is an agenda of significant importance for Solomon Islands and its partner agencies. To date, more than 6,000 workers are directly engaging in labour mobility offshore in both Australia and New Zealand, whilst at least 15,000 people are in the que to join the pool of candidates seeking to participate in the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) and Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) schemes.
Director Patternot said with the recognition that labour mobility in the Pacific has increased over the years, the unilateral schemes provided by Australia and New Zealand continues to play a crucial role in driving economic development, where remittances play a huge role in sustaining livelihoods and alleviating poverty and other socio-economic challenges.
She therefore acknowledges and recognise labour mobility schemes as opportunities for Pacific Island workers to gain new skills and knowledge in the industries they are placed in the receiving countries and then return to their home countries to apply these skills in various sectors such as construction, tourism, agriculture, and other key industries.
The Director however, strongly emphasized that proposals for regional Labour Mobility should not duplicate other work being carried out in the Labour Mobility space and where existing mechanisms in place are working well for us, to further enhance and improve.
Acknowledgement was made to the pivotal role by the Pacific Islands Forum Trade Ministers Meetings who since 2019, have made recommendations to strengthen strategic partnership between participating members and other key regional institutions including the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.]