Solomon Islands celebrated the record number of workers sent to Australia and New Zealand under the Pacific-Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) Scheme and the Recognized Seasonal Employer Scheme (RSE).
A ceremony was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade yesterday to honour the achievement that Solomon Islands has achieved in going beyond 5,550 workers under both schemes, a target the country set out to achieve under the Labour Mobility Strategy 2019-2023 document.
Minster of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Hon. Jeremiah Manele said to date, Solomon Islands has 5,152 workers in Australia and more than 938 in New Zealand, a total of 6,090 workers who are now overseas in both Labour Mobility Programs.
“We estimate that by the end of this year we should reach around the 7,000 mark,” Minister Manele expressed to guests at the event which included, the Deputy High Commissioner of Australia to Solomon Islands Ms. Sally Anne Vincent, Acting New Zealand High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Ms. Kate Bradlow, Solomon Islands High Commissioner to Australia, His Excellency, Robert Sisilo and members of the Approved Employers of Australia who are currently in the Country.
Minister Manele said Solomon Islands’ success story in achieving this historic target started on humble beginnings unlike the other Pacific Issland countries, who had the first mover advantage.
He said thousands of Solomon Islands citizens have gained employment and are able to earn regular income to improve their standard of living.
“Hundreds of ordinary Solomon Islands’ families now have someone who can provide for their basic livelihood
“Income that the workers have earned has enabled them to build permanent houses, invest in children’s education, run small family businesses, even purchase luxury good such as cars, household goods, and assist families and relatives in times of financial needs,” He added.
Both the Deputy High Commissioner of Australia to Solomon Islands, Sally Anne Vincent and the Deputy High Commissioner of New Zealand to Solomon Islands congratulated the Government of Solomon Islands for reaching this milestone achievement.
She said the largest cohort of Pacific workers deploying to Australia under the PALM Scheme are sourced from the Solomon Islands. With the large number of these workers sent during the last two years when the world was facing the effects of the pandemic.
“This is an outstanding achievement for Solomon Islands and the Labour Mobility Unit,” She added.
New Zealand Deputy High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Kate Bradlow said this milestone is a significant achievement towards economic development for the Solomon Islands.
She said Solomon islanders are regarded as hardworking and reliable workers and is reflected in the increasing number of locals travelling to New Zealand to work under the RSE Scheme,
She said recruitment numbers have steadily increased with the number set to reach 1,000 workers under the RSE Program soon.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade has initiated plans to further increase Solomon Islands’ labour mobility participation. It is working on reviewing its current Labour Mobility Strategy on how to take this scheme forward for the next five years.
With this review, it is projected that for every calendar year for the next five years the Solomon Islands would want to send 3,000 workers, and by 2028 it should have 16,000 Solomon Islanders secure labour mobility jobs.
Minister Manele said even though this initial projection is very ambitious, the country’s previous experience shows that we can achieve it.
Minister Manele stressed that to increase our participation rate, a collaborative approach and relationship building with all of our partners needs to be strengthened and harnessed.
—MFAET PRESS RELEASE