Address by Her Excellency Ms Deborah Stokes, Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea at the official opening of the Australia Pacific Technical College Hospitality Training Facility, 25 November 2014.
APTC Chief Executive Officer, Denise O’Brien
APTC Country Manager, Trevor Birney
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a great pleasure to be here today to officially open the Hospitality Training Facility (HTF) of the Australia Pacific Technical College, Port Moresby campus.
APTC is the Australian Government’s major investment in Technical and Vocational Education Training across the Pacific.
It was an initiative announced by former Prime Minister, John Howard, and welcomed by Pacific Island leaders at the Pacific Island Forum in October 2006.
APTC was formally established in 2007 and designed as a centre of training excellence to help Pacific Islanders gain skills and qualifications to Australian standards.
In addition to its Port Moresby campus, APTC has campuses in Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands.
APTC offers a wide range of vocational courses in the areas of Hospitality, Community Services, Trades and Technology, and Training and Assessment.
Since 2007, 1,501 Papua New Guineans (403 females and 1,098 males) have graduated from APTC in Port Moresby and across the Pacific.
The Importance of TVET to PNG APTC is more relevant to PNG now, then ever before.
PNG is benefitting from its vast natural resources but it will be its human resources that ultimately drive, shape and mobilise those benefits.
PNG needs more educated women and men in order to fulfil its tremendous potential and to provide its young and growing population with opportunities.
Never before has PNG faced so much opportunity facilitated by world class resource projects.
The growth has created a big demand for trained personnel.
APTC is an important part of Australia’s contribution to helping build a better skilled workforce in PNG.
APTC is helping women and men to access technical education through Australian funded scholarships.
Industry partners also send their employees for further training at APTC.
APTC students receive Australian and Papua New Guinean qualifications, improving their employment opportunities, domestically and internationally.
These qualifications are in demand by the private sector, who recognise the high standard of training that APTC provides to its students.
Working in partnership with PNG APTC is also helping to build the capacity of Papua New Guinean TVET institutions.
APTC and POMTECH have been working together since the APTC campus was established in 2008 in Port Moresby.
APTC leases land belonging to POMTECH. It has also supported POMTECH’s staff to upgrade their technical, teaching and management qualifications with the purpose of improving educational outcomes for students.
The National Automotive Training Centre (across the road) is a prime example of the partnership in action – it was jointly designed by both institutions, and students from both institutions will benefit from it.
Through this partnership, Australia is supporting PNG’s vision for POMTECH to be a Centre of Excellence.
New Hospitality Training Facility
The new Hospitality Training Facility adds to these high quality facilities.
Today’s opening provides a number of exciting opportunities.
Firstly, for women. Of all the technical trades, hospitality is an area, where there are fewer barriers to employment for women.
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 this one today.
The World Bank estimates that eliminating barriers to women’s full participation can increase labour productivity by as much as 25 per cent.
APTC’s new Hospitality Training Facility will provide the opportunity for more women, and men, to receive training at Australian trade level qualifications in commercial cookery, commercial catering, bakery, patisserie and hospitality operations.
Demand for hospitality courses
The opening of the Facility could not come at a better time.
The hospitality industry in PNG is experiencing a significant boom.
New hotel accommodation is being built in Port Moresby. And further is planned especially with an eye to APEC in 2018. These establishments require trained employees.
PNG’s tourism potential in other parts of the country is limitless. To realise this potential, PNG needs trained hospitality workers.
The new facility we are opening today will help to meet this demand for high quality training in the hospitality sector.
The student accommodation, dining and recreation areas have all been designed to provide a good environment for study, and to meet industry standards for their employees.
I would like to acknowledge the contributions by our various partners to make the Hospitality Training Facility a reality, including:
• The APTC management, administrative staff and the team of dedicated teachers.
• TAFE Queensland, who have supported the establishment of the facility, as well as designed the courses around PNG’s needs, ensuring Australian qualification standards are met.
• Our industry partner, Coral Sea Hotels, and other private sector stakeholders who share their wealth of knowledge and experience with the students and give them the opportunity to put their training to practical use in a workplace environment.
In closing, the TVET sector holds huge potential for the PNG labour market and economy. And we are pleased to be helping PNG to reach this potential.
It is with great pleasure that I declare the Hospitality Training Facility open.