Australian High Commission
Papua New Guinea

150515 APTC 15th Graduation

15th Graduation Ceremony on 14 May 2015
Address by
Her Excellency, Ms Deborah Stokes, Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea

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 15th Graduation Ceremony today.

We are here to celebrate the achievements of 116 Papua New Guinean women and men who have successfully completed their studies in various trade courses at the APTC Port Moresby Campus and other campuses within the region (including Fiji, Samoa and Vanuatu).

We have many reasons to be delighted today.

Firstly, at the end of this ceremony, we will be officially sending out 116 more skilled women and men into the labour market.

For PNG, this means more qualified people to deliver quality services in hospitality and tourism, in the trades sector and construction and in child care and disability services.

Secondly, all of these students are graduating with qualifications recognised both in Australia and in PNG, at Certificate 3 and 4 levels.

Today’s graduates can competitively offer their skills and expertise in the labour market across the Pacific.
The trade, entrepreneurial and innovative skills they have attained will make a real difference for many, including themselves.

As they utilize these skills they will grow in self-confidence and the ability to lead others.

Thirdly, on 25 November last year, I had the pleasure of opening the APTC Hospitality Training Facility here at Idubada.

It gives me great pleasure to see the first cohort of Hospitality students from this new training facility graduating today.

This is yet another milestone achievement by APTC. Congratulations to these graduates and to the APTC Team.

So to you the graduands, I want to say: Congratulations and well done.

To the teachers and families of these students, I applaud you on your efforts and sacrifices in getting to this day.

To the APTC Country Manager Trevor Birney, and his dedicated Team, I applaud you for all your efforts in providing the environment for the students to flourish.

Graduates, PNG is banking on you, to use your technical skills and knowledge to help drive the nation’s economic development.

PNG is experiencing fast economic growth.

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

It is people with skills like yours who will drive innovation, entrepreneurship and dynamism in PNG.

PNG needs to connect to the ever changing and increasingly connected global economy.

Skilled workforces are vital to this, to productivity and 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 need to work together.

This will ensure that technical training is relevant and that the job market has an adequate supply of highly skilled workers.

Supporting technical and vocational, education and training is one of Australia’s priorities in PNG.

APTC is a large contributor to our efforts.

It provides greater access for Papua New Guineans and other pacific islanders to attain Australian trade and service qualifications, that meet industry demand.

APTC is increasing the productivity of individuals and organisations in targeted industry sectors and helping to upgrade many workers’ existing skills.

Since its establishment in 2007, a total of 1,617 Papua New Guineans - 438 women and 1179 men - have graduated from APTC.
APTC’s partnerships with private companies means that the trade and service qualifications it 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 private sector partners, including Coral Sea Hotels, Avenell Engineering Systems and Digara Construction.

Through the APTC, Australia is also supporting a pilot project at the National Polytechnic Institute in Lae.

This pilot project is part of a broader initiative by a group of public and private stakeholders looking to support the establishment of a Centre of Excellence at Lae Polytechnic.

Once established, the centre will provide high quality TVET and other technical training to a standard which delivers
highly- employable graduates in vocations which are required by industry.

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

I am particularly pleased to see the number of females graduating today, 35 in all.

Education really does help to break down barriers.

PNG needs both skilled women and men.

There is overwhelming evidence that shows that nations who give equal opportunities to their women in terms of education and employment, do best.

Currently though, only around one third of all students enrolled in higher and tertiary courses are female.

Nations cannot leave half of their population behind if they wish to prosper.

Graduates, your future lies ahead of you. You now have additional skills and knowledge which will help you to contribute to Papua New Guinea’s economy and society.

I encourage you to consider further study throughout your career.

I am delighted to be able to play a small part in today’s graduation ceremony and share in your day of achievement.

Finally, I wish to make a special mention here of Trevor Birney, the APTC PNG Country Manager, for his immense contributions to the operations of the Port Moresby Campus and to APTC in general in the region.

This is Trevor’s final APTC Graduation.

Trevor has devoted almost 32 years of service to the PNG Education Sector in a variety of roles, including as High School Teacher and Principle; Country Manager of APTC in PNG from 2011 -2015; President of the PNG College of Educators, from 2002 – 2011; and Member of the PNG National Apprenticeship Trade Testing Board, from 2013 -2015.

Trevor is returning to Australia very soon. He is not saying his final goodbyes as he hopes to return to PNG to continue working in some other capacity in the future.

To Trevor Birney, thank you for your contributions to the operations of the Port Moresby Campus and to APTC in general in the region.

We wish you well.