The Prime Minister of Australia, Honourable Scott Morrison MP, paid a visit to the Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) joint training centre for Certificate III in Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration at the Fiji National University (FNU) Derrick Campus in Suva on Friday 18 January 2019.
Australia’s flagship Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) program for the Pacific, APTC delivers internationally-recognised Australian skills and qualifications for a wide range of vocational careers for skilled workers across the region.
PM Morrison was welcomed by the Fijian Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts, Honourable Rosy Akbar, FNU Pro Vice-Chancellor – Learning and Teaching, Professor James Pounder, and APTC CEO, Ms Soli Middleby.
He visited the class of 16 students undertaking Certificate III in Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration, and participated in a hands-on technical demonstration to install an air-conditioning unit.
PM Morrison encouraged the students to make use of the many opportunities afforded by new and expanded skills and internationally-recognised qualifications. He thanked them, as well as APTC trainers, for the important role they play in the region’s development.
APTC alumni from a range of programs also shared their experiences with PM Morrison during the visit.
PM Morrison commended the Fijian Government and industry for investing in skills-based training, and partnering with APTC to harness the skills of Fijian trades workers of diverse backgrounds, including youth, women, people with disabilities and remote communities.
He also congratulated APTC on entering its third phase, which places a stronger emphasis on addressing regional skills shortages, promoting greater employment outcomes for graduates locally and abroad, and strengthening Pacific TVET systems in coalition with stakeholders.
PM Morrison was delighted to hear about APTC’s partnership with FNU to deliver quality TVET through Australian-standard training resources, facilities and trainers. He complimented the training facilities and commended both institutions for their efforts in continuous improvement and quality standards.
To date, over 600 APTC students from Fiji and the Pacific have trained at FNU-based sites in Samabula, Narere and Nabua, earning qualifications in Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration, Electrotechnology, Painting and Decorating, and Applied Fashion Design and Technology. They join 13,000 Pacific Islanders who have received qualifications from APTC.
Both institutions are entering a new phase of partnership this year, which began with the relocation of APTC’s Certificate III in Engineering – Mechanical Trade (Machining) training site in Walu Bay to FNU’s Derrick Campus earlier this week.
Ms Middleby, who led the tour of the training centre, said, “Meeting with PM Morrison was a wonderful opportunity for the students, trainers, alumni and our partners to share their experiences, activities and achievements. We look forward to evolving in our partnership with FNU, and we are grateful for the support from the Fijian and Australian Governments.”
Her sentiments were echoed by APTC Country Director for Fiji and Tuvalu, Jovesa Saladoka.
“It is an exciting time for both APTC and FNU as we begin to explore and agree on embedding key principles of quality TVET standards that encompass a strong governance structure. We are thankful to the Fiji Higher Education Commission and the involvement of industry bodies such as the Construction Industry Council in working towards and maintaining such standards,” Mr Saladoka said.
PM Morrison’s visit to APTC was part of his first official visits to Vanuatu and Fiji from 16 to 18 January.