PACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM SECRETARIAT
EDUCATION MINISTERS MEETING
26-27 September 2006
ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK REGIONAL SKILLS DEVELOPMENT
TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE STUDY: PROGRESS REPORT
This paper was prepared by the Team Leader of the ADB Study in consultation with
the Forum Secretariat.
ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK REGIONAL SKILLS DEVELOPMENT
TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE PROJECT: PROGRESS REPORT
The purpose of this paper is to provide an update on progress of the regional
study of skills development in the Pacific.
Background and objectives of the study
In 2005 the Asian Development Bank (ADB) agreed to finance technical
assistance for a comprehensive study of technical-vocational skills development in the
Pacific Region in collaboration with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS).
PIFS is the executing agency for the project.
The Regional Study seeks to improve the output and absorption of skills in the
Region through the development of better policies, strategies and investments in
technical-vocational education and training (TVET). The Pacific TVET Study is
designed to do three things: (i) analyse issues of supply and demand for vocational
skills, (ii) develop responsive and effective country and regional strategies for skills
development, and (iii) identify investments necessary to implement the strategies.
More specifically, the Study seeks to achieve the following:
i. An assessment of the relationship between skills development and economic
development, labour market demand and outward migration within the sample
ii. Policy options for skill development that governments of Pacific Developing
Member Countries (PMDCs)1s may wish to consider based on an in-depth
analysis of issues and alternatives.
iii. National level recommendations on pre-employment training, skills up-
grading, adult re-training and income generation.
iv. An integrated, prioritized and initially costed project design for regional skills
The Regional Study was endorsed by Ministers of Education of the Pacific
Islands Forum during a meeting from 23-24 May 2005, in Apia, Samoa. The newly
created Pacific Islands Private Sector Organization (PIPSO) has agreed to support the
proposed survey of employers through its national members, mainly chambers of
commerce and industry.
1 Pacific Member Developing Countries of the ADB that are also members of the Pacific Islands Forum are
participating in the study: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Papua New
Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu
The Pacific TVET Study is being implemented through initial consultations
with stakeholders, a literature search, employer and employee surveys, 13 country
studies including in-depth country analysis in six of those countries, synthesis of the
findings and final consultations.
A regional workshop was held in Suva in May 2006 to agree on a common
agenda of issues to be addressed, questions to be answered and the scope of the study.
Two orientation workshops were held in Suva in June 2006 for domestic consultants
to train them on the review methodology and analysis of TVET. The heart of the
analysis is the country TVET reviews. Thirteen country studies are being prepared,
followed by studies in greater depth in six representative countries (Papua New
Guinea, Vanuatu and Fiji in Melanesia; Marshall Islands and Kiribati in Micronesia;
and Tuvalu in Polynesia). A sample survey of employers and employees is being
undertaken in all 13 PDMCs. This analytical work will be synthesized in a report2 on
issues and options for skills development, including national and regional project
The study is about one third complete. Thus far (early September 2006), four
international and 12 domestic consultants have been hired to do the study. Six
country studies have been drafted by domestic consultants (Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu,
Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Kiribati). In-depth field work has been completed in two
countries (Fiji and Vanuatu) and is underway in two other countries (Kiribati and
Tuvalu). The employer and employee surveys have been designed and the survey
instruments are being distributed through chambers of commerce and industry.
All the country studies are scheduled for completion by the end of 2006 along
with the employer/employee surveys and the literature review. The synthesis report
will be completed by April 2007 in preparation for a regional workshop that will
review the findings in May 2007 with the final report produced by July 2007.
Dissemination of results will include a website at PIFS and ADB incorporating all
country and thematic studies.
The findings from two countries reviews (Fiji and Vanuatu) point to skill
shortages in Fiji owing in part to substantial emigration of skilled workers, and
roughly an even balance of supply and demand of workers in Vanuatu. The TVET
systems in both countries are relatively small and consume few public resources
(under 1 per cent of the Ministry of Education budgets). However, the TVET systems
enjoy strong non-public financing through tuition fees and, in Fiji, a payroll levy.
Institutes of technology play the dominant role in both countries. The Fiji Institute of
2 It was agreed at the informal donors meeting in Suva in April 2006 that the synthesis study would also take into
account the results of the World Bank-NZAID skills development plan in the Solomon Islands.
Technology (FIT) “franchises” trade courses for delivery in secondary schools. The
Training and Productivity Authority of Fiji (TPAF) provides skills training well
linked to industry requirements. Vanuatu features a key central training organization,
the Vanuatu National Training Council for coordination and quality control, and
excellent plans for development of the TVET system.
The principal challenges appear to be (1) quality improvement, (2) addressing
training needs in rural areas, (3) institutional reform in Fiji, and (4) expanding output
efficiently to respond to market demand (Fiji). Quality issues dominate in both
countries – in secondary schools and FIT in Fiji, and in variable quality of rural
training in Vanuatu. Weak teaching programs, inadequately trained instructors and
insufficient equipment contribute to inadequate skills acquisition. A key to improving
the quality will be effective implementation of national qualifications frameworks
(QF) based on employer occupational standards. A QF has been adopted recently in
Vanuatu and one is in the development stage for Fiji.
Another issue applies to both countries: the neglect and lack of provision of
training for the rural informal economy where many school leavers are destined and
where most people reside. In addition, Fiji may wish to consider the establishment of
a central coordination and quality assurance agency and the development of a strategy
for servicing both the burgeoning skills demands of the modern economy and the
It is premature to think seriously about possible investments to support the key
challenges. However, a regional project could be considered eventually - something
akin to the PRIDE model - to support national initiatives in terms of planning,
qualifications frameworks, organizational strengthening, infrastructure upgrading and
training delivery in key areas.