PACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM SECRETARIAT
FORUM EDUCATION MINISTERS’ MEETING
24-26 March 2009
REGIONAL SUPPORT TO TECHNICAL AND VOCATIONAL
EDUCATION & TRAINING (TVET) – A PROGRESS REPORT
This paper was prepared by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) for the
information of Ministers.
PACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM SECRETARIAT
FORUM EDUCATION MINISTERS’ MEETING
24-26 March 2009
REGIONAL SUPPORT TO TECHNICAL AND VOCATIONAL EDUCATION
& TRAINING (TVET) – A PROGRESS REPORT1
Structured regional support for the technical and vocational education and training
(TVET) sector has been comparatively weak compared to the assistance available for basic
education and other sub sectors of education. This paper is to update Forum Education
Ministers on regional initiatives that look at a regional coordinative framework for TVET
especially to create enabling conditions for sustainable economic growth and to meet
challenges of a rapidly growing young and inadequately skilled population.
The 2001 Forum Ministers of Education declaration and the adoption of the Forum
Basic Education Action Plan (FBEAP) included a need for the status of TVET to be raised
and reflected in national education policies and plans.
Likewise, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) 2001 Conference which
identified human resources development (HRD) as SPC’s core business requested the
Secretariat (SPC) to develop a mechanism for better coordination of TVET in the region
thereby articulating the dual role SPC plays as a direct provider of TVET across all the
technical programmes under its jurisdiction and in helping to develop a mechanism for better
coordination of TVET in the region.
The Pacific Plan 2004 (identified under activity 7.1 and 7.2) called on harmonising
approaches on the education sector and investigating the potential for expanding regional
technical and vocational education training programmes in order to support the FBEAP,
labour market demands and economic security. In the same year, Forum Ministers of
Education endorsed the development of the Regional Qualifications Register (RQR).
1 This paper was prepared by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).
In 2005, Forum Ministers of Education requested SPC to host the Pacific Association
of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (PATVET) secretariat, in order to kick-
start the development of a mechanism for better coordination of TVET in the Pacific via the
establishment of a comprehensive inventory of all TVET institutions in all Pacific Island
Countries and Territories (PICT) that would provide details including courses offered, course
descriptors and qualifications awarded; as part of work towards the establishment of a
regional qualifications register; and eventually the establishment of a regional qualifications
SPC has hosted and funded the PATVET secretariat (established in 2002) since April
In 2007, the SPC’s governing council approved the formation of a new TVET
programme under SPC and directed the Secretariat to seek strategic discussions with
PATVET, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) and the University of the South
Pacific (USP) regarding the organisation of an effective regional support framework for
TVET in the Pacific.
The findings of the Asian Development Bank/PIFS (2008) Skilling the Pacific Study
with priorities for regional interventions highlighted the need for strategic investments in
Priority on skills development was also mandated from the Forum Economic
Ministers Meeting (FEMM) and Forum Trade Ministers Meeting (FTMM) to support Pacific
Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA) efforts in trade in services agreement covering
Temporary Movement of Natural Persons (TMNP) commitments to expand labour markets
for Forum Members; and affirmed at the Forum Labour Mobility Roundtable in June 2008.
The Forum Ministers of Education endorsed the Pacific Teacher Recruitment Protocol
in 2006. This contributes to the development of a regulatory/policy framework to facilitate
labour mobility (e.g. teachers) across the region. A call for the establishment of a regional
professional registration network of Pacific teachers was also made in a meeting of Teaching
and Public Service Commissions in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea in March 2007.
13. Recently, to highlight the economic imperative of TVET training, Forum Leaders
through the Forum Communiqué (2008) on Education and Human Resource Development
called on PIFS, SPBEA, USP and SPC to supplement national capacity and support regional
action with a particular focus on (amongst others): ‘supporting the training of people and
their possible pursuit of economic opportunity across the region including through improved
quality and access to technical and vocational education and training, promoting greater
attention to building lifeskills and other forms of formal and non-formal education to assist
Pacific Island children prepare for their futures.
Progress and Updates
The regional inventory of TVET providers is now accessible in downloadable TVET
datasets per country from the PATVET website, www.spc.int/patvet. SPC continues to
The Australian Pacific Technical College (APTC), an AusAID funded Australian
Government initiative, was established in 2007 and continues to expand its delivery across
the Pacific. Recently, the College held its 3rd graduation ceremony in Fiji with students
from the School of Tourism and Hospitality graduating with Australian vocational
qualifications at Level III or higher in commercial cookery, hospitality operations and
hospitality supervision. Nearly 200 students have now graduated from the APTC with
additional graduation ceremonies held in Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea,
Solomon Islands, Nauru and Kiribati. There are
1100 students enrolled and
studying at campuses and training centres in Fiji, Samoa, PNG and Vanuatu. These students
represent eight Forum Island Countries. Currently, applications are also being processed from
Tuvalu and Niue.
At the Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders meeting in Washington DC, May 2007,
the former US Secretary for State advised of potential economic benefits for Pacific
Islands Countries (PICs) through the military build-up in Guam which is scheduled to be
effective from (at the earliest) 2014. Subsequently, Leaders of Pacific nations sought and
received support from Governor Camacho of Guam, to ensure PICTs benefit from the
economic opportunities availed through this build up. The CEOs of SPC, PIFS, and the Guam
Department of Labour signed a Letter of Understanding in May 2008, to, inter alia, facilitate
‘twinning arrangements between regional and Guam TVET providers, such as the Guam
Trades Academy and to ‘ensure that skills development meet regional certification
standards’. SPC and PIFS have had discussions as well as informal consultations with a few
national TVET stakeholders over this and this has now been brought to the CROP TVET
subcommittee (see next paragraph) to look at.
A meeting agreed between the heads of SPC/PATVET, PIFS and SPBEA was held in
August 2008 to explore mechanisms to better coordinate and consolidate TVET development
at the regional level and to clarify existing functions and activities of CROP agencies in the
TVET area. It was agreed that a multi-agency working group be formed to oversee
harmonisation efforts in the TVET sector. The members of the group would include but are
not limited to: SPC, PATVET, PIFS, the South Pacific Board for Educational Assessment
(SPBEA) and the USP. SPC has taken the role of lead agency and provides the Secretariat to
the Working Group2. Subsequent meetings were held in 2008. The TVET objectives of the
Pacific Plan are the overarching mandate for the coordinating mechanism for TVET with the
TVET subcommittee reporting to the CROP3 Human Resource Development Working Group,
which then feeds this to Ministerial agendas and to the Pacific Plan Action Committee
(PPAC) comprising Heads of CROP agencies. Support or endorsement of Governing
councils of respective agencies in this committee for any regional initiative will be sought
Another outcome from these meetings is clear delineation of roles re TVET and
resources through a regional TVET proposal for the 10th European
Development Fund. SPC was tasked to develop the concept note and has been successful in
the initial bid. The proposal links training to employment and focuses on priorities from the
ADB Skilling the Pacific Study (institutional development of TVET, strengthening of labour
market information systems, quality assurance systems and processes, and strengthening of
the regional coordinative framework) and addresses crosscutting concerns of the Education
for Sustainable Development framework that Ministers of Education endorsed in 2007. The
ID fiche has now been finalised and involved
with key national TVET
stakeholders. If the ID fiche proposal is approved, this will strengthen regional coordination
of TVET and current reforms underway at national levels.
2 See Annex 1
3 CROP: Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific
Forum leaders have decided that SPBEA should be merged with SPC under the
Regional Integration Framework. The proposed implementation in January 2010 will
provide a useful and timely opportunity for better coordination of TVET at regional level.
TVET can be a positive influence on social and economic change especially in
addressing increasing youth unemployment and providing options for those who are not
academically inclined. We already have a high rate of school leavers who do not have
marketable skills to contribute productively to their livelihoods. These developments will
enhance national HRD development priorities especially in the TVET sector as well as
contribute to current national poverty alleviation strategies.
Ministers are invited to:
(a) note the progress made on TVET at regional level and SPC’s contribution
especially in support of PATVET and coordinated approach to TVET; and
(b) support regional TVET strategies that contribute to the implementation of the
Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Suva
3 March 2009
The Working Group (subcommittee) on TVET has the following Terms of Reference:
Identify agencies’ core responsibilities and specific mandates in implementing
TVET regional priorities, and areas for collaboration in implementation and
mobilising resources, especially under the Pacific Plan.
Identify cost effective measures to better coordinate activities in the TVET
sector amongst CROP agencies including joint design, implementation and
resourcing of programmes.
Identify priority areas for resource mobilisation and undertake joint
preparations where required including conceptualising and design of new
regional initiatives e.g. through the European Development Fund (EDF)
Provide advice or strategic inputs to the HRD working group and to the
Forum Ministers of Education Ministers’ meeting processes where required.
Contribute to monitoring and reporting on progress in regional TVET
initiatives where required.