Australia supports a range of local, regional and international training opportunities to ensure Tongans are skilled to meet priority areas of labour demand. Australia’s Interim Skills Development Facility provided potential employees with the skills and qualifications needed by the private sector, both in Tonga and overseas, and linked directly to private sector demand.
The Tonga Skills for Inclusive Economic Growth Program will follow the achievements of the Interim Skills Development Facility, through addressing the lack of access to quality based and demand driven skills training which inhibits employment and self-employment opportunities for all working age Tongans.
Australia’s support to Tonga’s basic education system has helped professionalise the teaching workforce and support the development of new curriculum materials and the provision of new textbooks for classes one to eight. It also helped support a system of school grants linked to achievement of set minimum quality standards and the development of ‘school-based management’ practices providing a good foundation for further lifting educational achievement in primary schools.
Australia provides scholarships and fellowships for Tongan citizens to study at tertiary-level institutions in Australia and the Pacific region through its Australia Awards. In 2016, 30 Tongans (63 per cent women) received Australia Awards. Australia has provided over 482 scholarships to Tongan students since 1997, with a focus on addressing human resource gaps in the workforce and enhancing people-to-people links between our two countries.
Australia’s Seasonal Worker Programme, led by the Department of Employment, connects Pacific island workers with Australian employers experiencing labour shortages, typically in rural and remote areas. This benefits both parties and the average worker remits around $5,000 during a six-month placement. Since 2012, more than 8,500 Tongans have participated in the Seasonal Worker Programme.
Tonga Skills for Inclusive Economic Growth Program
$7.5 million, October 2016–2021
The Tonga Skills for Inclusive Economic Growth Program seeks to address the lack of access to quality based and demand driven skills training which inhibits employment and self-employment opportunities for all working age Tongans and impedes economic growth. Through the facilitation of skills training that is aligned to labour market demand and economic growth opportunities, participants will have greater opportunity for productive employment and self-employment in national and international labour markets. The Program has a particular focus on opportunities for women and those with disability.
Interim Skills Development Facility
$2.6 million, 2014–2016
Established in May 2014, the Interim Skills Development Facility addressed the immediate skills demand identified in the Tonga Labour Market Study 2013. The Facility contributed to an appropriately skilled workforce to meet the available employment opportunities in Tonga and overseas. The Interim Skills Development Facility concluded in October 2016.
Tonga Education Support Program—Phase 2
$6.5 million, 2013–2016
This initiative sought to support improvements in the quality of primary schools and early childhood education. It helps the Tongan Ministry of Education and Training improve teacher registration and knowledge development and dissemination, as well as provide updated regulations and policies. The Tonga Education Support Program Phase 2 concluded in September 2016.
Key achievements include:
- 150 teachers gaining professional certification; revision of curriculum materials for classes 1 to 8 to improve teaching strategies and learning outcomes;
- the update and operationalization of key elements of Tonga’s National Early Childhood Education policy;
- development of Early Childhood Education Resources (in the Tongan language);
- revision of the Early Childhood Education Curriculum; and
- development of an Early Childhood Education teaching qualification.