Australian High Commission
Papua New Guinea

140528 - HOM Speech - APTC 13th graduation

28 May 2014

The Australia Pacific Technical College (Port Moresby)
13th Graduation Ceremony
Address by
Her Excellency, Ms Deborah Stokes
Australian High Commissioner to PNG


APTC Chief Executive Officer, Denise O’Brien
APTC Country Manager, Trevor Birney
Distinguished guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

I am honoured to speak at the APTC’s 13th Graduation Ceremony. I want to congratulate all of you, graduands, teachers and families for your support and efforts in getting to this day.

The Australian Government is very pleased to be supporting APTC and technical education in PNG, and in other Pacific nations. APTC provides greater access for Papua New Guineans to attain Australian trade and service qualifications.

In this way, it is contributing to PNG’s ambitions to develop its workforce and improve employment opportunities for Papua New Guineans, both domestically and internationally.

Technical qualifications are essential for the growing economy of PNG and are in demand by the private sector.

APTC is helping to fill this gap. Since its inception in 1997, 362 females and 956 males, a total of 1,318 Papua New Guineans, have graduated from APTC.

PNG is banking on these Papua New Guineans and all of you graduates today, with your increased skills and knowledge.

People with skills like yours drive innovation, entrepreneurship and dynamism.

PNG needs this to connect to the ever changing and increasingly connected global economy. Skilled workforces are vital to productivity and central to a nation’s competitiveness and progress.

PNG is benefitting from its vast natural resources but it will be its human resources that ultimately drive, shape and mobilise those benefits.

Governments, development partners, employers and higher learning institutions also need to work together to ensure training is relevant and that the job market has an adequate supply of high-skilled workers.

APTC’s partnerships with private companies, a number of which are here today, means that the trade and service qualifications APTC offers are internationally recognised, in-demand, and that its graduates are valued by the private sector.

I would like to acknowledge contributions by some of APTC’s partners, Hastings Deering in Port Moresby and the Coral Sea Hotels.

The construction currently underway of the new Tourism and Hospitality Facilty, and the National Automotive Training Centre, are exciting developments. These will help to keep APTC in touch with industry needs.

These new facilities also showcase the partnership approach APTC is taking with POMTECH.

Australia and Papua New Guinea have been working together from the beginning. The APTC campus was constructed on land belonging to POMTECH. The National Automotive Training Centre was jointly designed by both institutions.

The partnership has benefitted POMTECH and their students through significant and ongoing upgrade of shared facilities. APTC has benefitted from the close cooperation and supportive environment at POMTECH.

Through this partnership, Australia is supporting PNG’s vision for POMTECH to be a Centre of Excellence

Gender equality

Graduates, your additional skills and knowledge will help you to contribute to Papua New Guinea’s economy. They will also help you to contribute to society.

I am particularly pleased to see the number of females graduating today, 37 in all. I would like to make a particular mention of young women who are graduating in male dominated trades like Metal Fabrication and Fitting and Machining.

It is great to see a growing number of young women enrolling in trade certificates, in fields traditionally perceived as the domain of men.

Education really does help to break down barriers.

International experience has shown that investing in the education of girls delivers immense economic and social benefits.

Indeed it is the single most important activity that any country can support.

The World Bank estimates that eliminating barriers to women’s full participation can increase labour productivity by as much as 25 per cent. PNG needs both men and women to be agents of change.

It is very pleasing to see that women represent over 26 percent of today’s graduands.

As a close friend and partner of PNG, Australia is committed to helping PNG improve opportunities for women.

I invite all of you today, especially the men, to demonstrate leadership by embracing gender equality in your work and in your communities.


Graduation ceremonies are significant milestones.

They are the culmination of effort, sacrifice and commitment, by yourselves and your families.

This is a wonderful day for all of you and your families, as you mark the end of one great effort and the beginning of another. For some of you, coming back to school after being in the field has been a challenge. I applaud you for successfully meeting this challenge.

I also wish to acknowledge Trevor Birney, the PNG Country Manager, APTC’s local staff and management, and indeed Mrs O’Brien, the APTC CEO. APTC staff and management across the Pacific and in Australia should be congratulated for their hard work in helping you reach this milestone.

I am delighted to be here today to share in your day of achievement.

Individually and together you can make a difference and help PNG realise its full potential.

I wish you well.