Hon. Ian Ling-Stuckey, CMG. MP
Minister for Treasury and
Minister Responsible for Labour Mobility
I am passionate about the prospect of labour mobility for Papua New Guinea’s youth.
I spent a number of years watching with disappointment as opportunities passed
our young people by.
When I became Treasurer in the Marape Government, I was determined this would end.
In late 2019 we established a Ministerial Steering Committee on Labour Mobility and I was given the task of working with our first chairman, former Deputy Prime Minister Davis Steven, to increase the number of workers overseas and establish a strong and independent labour sending unit.
We directed the establishment of the PNG Labour Mobility Unit and a new and improved model of recruitment for our workers. We particularly focused on taking opportunities out to workers in rural districts and provinces, so that we could get the best and most experienced candidates for jobs overseas.
And our new approach has worked. In the first three months of 2020, when borders closed, we had more workers in Australia than we did in all of 2018. Without COVID-19, we were on track to send up to a thousand workers to Australia and New Zealand in 2020.
While COVID-19 has stopped our workers travelling, we have been busy preparing for the reopening of borders.
We have established policies and frameworks for labour mobility to make sure Papua New Guinea’s Labour Mobility Unit is the most ethical, responsive and efficient labour sending service in the Pacific.
We have taken our regional pilot and expanded it to 12 districts and provinces. More are joining and regional recruitment is now integral to our approach to worker selection.
Even with the setback of COVID-19, we are on track to achieve the Marape Government goal of having over 8,000 workers overseas by 2025.
We are rolling out work-readiness training programs, and providing specialised skills training to workers in key industries such as food processing and aged care.
And our climate and diversified agricultural base means we have workers experienced with apples, citrus fruit, strawberries, table grapes, mangoes, bananas and pineapples. We even have coffee growers from Bougainville working at coffee plantations in Australia.
We have started a new initiative to match our workers’ experience to their employment so they can benefit from these opportunities by bringing their new skills home.
We are creating a culture of excellence in the PNGLMU. We want to be the first choice for employers when they are looking for workers in agriculture, fisheries, hospitality and mining-related industries. We want to expand into caring professions and give our trained care workers opportunities to gain international experience.
We know our new approach to labour mobility will set the standard for the region and put PNG youth on track for a brighter future.