Australian High Commission
Papua New Guinea

150626 Speech

Small and Medium Enterprise Corporation
Garment and Textile Training Centre
24th Graduation
26th June 2015
10.00am – 1.00pm

Address by Her Excellency, Ms Deborah Stokes Australia's High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea

Mr Henry Marasembi, Acting Managing Director, Small Medium Enterprise Corporation
Mr Andrew Liliura, Representative from the Department of Trade, Commerce and Industry
Distinguished guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

I’m pleased to be here at today’s graduation, the 24th since 2002, at the Garment and Textile Training Centre.

At the end of this ceremony, there will be 32 skilled Papuan New Guineans available to the labour market—the majority of whom are women.

For PNG, this means more qualified people to produce quality goods.

Perhaps for some of you it may even lead to starting your own businesses.

Technical vocational education and training is more relevant to PNG now, than ever before.

Never before has PNG faced so much opportunity facilitated by world class resource projects.

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

There is a critical shortage of Papua New Guineans with technical and vocational skills. In 2010, only 1.6 per cent of the population held a Vocational or Technical Certificate.

Women’s economic empowerment
PNG needs more educated and skilled women and men in order to fulfil its tremendous potential and to provide its young and growing population with opportunities.

Generally, across PNG young women currently do not have the same employment and training opportunities as men. In 2011 in PNG, women only represented 30 per cent of all enrolments in TVET courses.

To overcome this inequality of opportunity, PNG needs more investment in women’s economic empowerment, like that presented here today.

The World Bank estimates that eliminating barriers to women’s full participation could significantly increase labour productivity by as much as 25 per cent.

Improving gender equality and women’s empowerment are essential to both building a skilled and competitive workforce and lifting living standards.

Private Sector
Those of you graduating today now have the opportunity to put your training to practical use.

Economies grow when businesses can start or expand in response to new opportunities and when workers develop new or improve skills.

The private sector is a proven driver of job creation and economic growth - nine out of ten of jobs are created in the private sector.

Expanding opportunities for people, businesses and communities is the key to both promoting economic growth and reducing poverty.

This is an area that governments, the private sector and donor partners can work together to address.

The success of this program relies partly on the partnership with the clothing industry, which provides 4 weeks on the job training for some of the students.

By working with the private sector to improve education outcomes, TVET programs can deliver the skilled workforce that industry needs. We are pleased to be cooperating with SMEC on the billum project.

I would like to acknowledge the important work of the Small and Medium Enterprise Corporation in delivering women-focussed training programs.

The vocational training sector holds huge potential for the PNG labour market and economy. It is an important element in economic development for Papua New Guinea.

Graduands, 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, society and to your families.

It is a great pleasure to be here today and I wish you every success in the future.