SPTO Signs MOA with The Pacific Community And Australia Pacific Training Coalition to Address Labour Market Demands and Skills Gaps in Pacific Tourism Sector

A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on the Development of Regional Micro-Qualifications for the tourism sector has been signed between the Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO), the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Australia Pacific Training Coalition.

The MOA is aimed at addressing the growing demand for a skilled, inclusive and productive Pacific tourism industry and will be implemented by all three agencies. Under the MOA, the three signatories will form a ‘Regional Tourism Sector Skills Coalition’ to collaborate and respond to labor demands and quality industry-relevant training in the tourism sector.

The Coalition will work in line with the principles and priorities of the Pacific Regional Education Framework (PacREF) for industry-responsive TVET programs.  Collective efforts will be aimed at supporting and adding value to efforts at national level, with respect for the autonomy and sovereignty of national qualifications.

The SPTO Chief Executive Officer, Mr Chris Cocker, welcomed the new partnership and said that it supported the SPTO’s 2020-2024 Strategic Plan and vision for empowering Pacific people.

“Tourism is vital to Pacific Island economies as a major driver of growth,” Mr Cocker said. “This coalition with our partners is important as it will place the training needs of our people as a top priority. The greatest asset in the Pacific and the tourism sector is our people,” Mr. Cocker said.

The Pacific tourism sector contributed 11% to the Pacific’s GDP, received 3.1 million international air and cruise tourists and provided direct employment for around 131,010 employees in 2018. These numbers are

predicted to rise in the coming decade and the World Bank predicts that Pacific tourism will engage an additional 128,400 employees by 2040.

Under the MOA the Coalition will jointly review the skills gap in the Pacific tourism sector with national stakeholders, select appropriate TVET micro-qualifications to develop industry needs and register with the Pacific Register of  Qualifications and  Standards (PRQS), work with national and regional training providers to pilot a program demonstrating the qualification relevance to stakeholders, support the development of Pacific Island national TVET systems and respect the autonomy of national TVET regulators.

During the signing of the MOA, APTC CEO, Ms Soli Middleby said: “A skilled, inclusive and productive tourism workforce is vital not only to grow the tourism sector but also for Pacific people and communities to benefit sustainably into the future. Supporting the skills agendas of Pacific Island countries’ is central to how APTC works and we are here to exchange lessons and resources to contribute to a thriving tourism sector that enhances Pacific prosperity.”

As implementing agencies under the PacREF, APTC and the SPC Education Quality and Assessment Programme (EQAP) will work with the SPTO to develop industry-relevant regional micro-qualifications.

SPC Director General Colin Tukuitonga highlighted the key role of training and regional qualifications, “While the opportunity for our region’s people in the tourism sector is clear, we must be able to meet the demand for skilled professionals in this industry. Developing clear regionally recognized qualifications will help unlock this opportunity and expand the Pacific’s reputation as a rewarding travel destination.”

The coalition is expected to proceed until 2022 and aims to be responsive and adapt to industry needs and partner processes.

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