Addressing the growing demands for a skilled, inclusive and productive Pacific tourism industry is the goal of a new coalition formed between The Pacific Community (SPC), the Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) and the Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC).
A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for Cooperation on the Development of Regional Micro-Qualifications for the Tourism Sector was signed between SPC, SPTO and APTC on Friday 29 November.
Under the MOA, the three signatories will form the ‘Regional Tourism Sector Skills Coalition’ to collaborate and respond to labour 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. Other interested regional and national partners are also welcome to join the Coalition as it progresses.
Tourism is vital to Pacific Island economies as a major driver of growth. The Pacific’s tourism sector contributed 11 % to the Pacific’s GDP, received 2.1 million international tourists and employed around 131,010 employees in 2018. These numbers are predicted to rise in the coming decade. Considering this projection, the World Bank predicts Pacific tourism will engage an additional 128,400 employees by 2040.
Pacific Tourism Organisation CEO, Chris Cocker said, “SPTO welcomes this joint partnership amongst the named regional organisations because it will achieve win-win outcomes for our tourism sector employees. People are the greatest asset of the Pacific’s tourism sector and their training needs are a top priority. The partnership definitely supports SPTO’s 2020-2024 Strategic Plan and our vision of empowering Pacific people.”
As part of the MOA, parties agree to: jointly review skills gaps in the Pacific tourism industry with national stakeholders; jointly select appropriate TVET micro-qualifications to develop to meet 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; work to 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 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 SPTO to develop industry-relevant regional micro-qualifications.
SPC Director General Colin Tukuitonga highlighted the key role of both 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 recognised 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.