Employment creation critical for islands, says report


A new World Bank report titled <i>“Wellbeing from Work in the Pacific Island Countries”</i> creation of avenues for increased employment is critical for the economic sustainability of the Pacific Islands region.<!--more-->

The report has highlighted the role of seasonal labour – like the successful Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Scheme in New Zealand – in providing productive work and critical income for thousands of Pacific Islanders. <b>Pacific Islands Trade &amp; Invest</b> <b>(PT&amp;I) </b>NZ has been involved in New Zealand’s RSE scheme since inception.

As populations continue to grow, the number of young people increases – and people increasingly concentrate in urban areas. This makes it important to create opportunities to harness the human capacity, especially for women and youth, to contribute to the economy and avoid falling into poverty, the report says.

Over half of Pacific Islanders are under the age of 24 – the highest youth population of any region in the world. Meanwhile in some countries up to 58 percent of young people are estimated to be out of work, not in education or in training.  This increases their risk of poverty and countries’ risk of social unrest.

“The 10 countries studied in the report are all among the world’s 50 smallest and most remote nations, which poses distinct challenges for job creation,” said Tobias Haque, Economist for the Pacific Islands at the World Bank and lead author of the report.

The report offers four key policy recommendations to increase employment opportunities and the wellbeing people can expect from work: Looking beyond business-environment reforms; Increasing opportunities for international labour mobility; Embracing urbanisation while managing the risks and Leveraging public spending to create high quality employment opportunities.

Commenting on the seasonal labour programme in the region Mr Haque said, “The ability of Pacific Islanders to work overseas provides a ‘win-win’ scenario for both sending and receiving countries.

“Migrant workers can access higher incomes in Australia or New Zealand than would ever be possible at home, while remittance flows are providing critical income for many Pacific Island economies. At the same time businesses in Australia and New Zealand have also benefited from access to a productive, highly reliable workforce.”

New Zealand’s RSE and the Australian Pacific seasonal worker schemes provide opportunities for Pacific Islanders to undertake seasonal work in areas where labor is scarce, particularly in the horticulture industries.