Opportunities open to Tongan nurses and apprentices to work in Australia,  NZ

Nurses and apprentices in Tonga can now go to New Zealand and practice what they are being trained for in Tonga.

The opportunity follows an agreement signed by New Zealand and Australian Trade Ministers and representatives from Pacific nations at the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus talks in Brisbane last month.

Tonga’s Customs and Revenue CEO ‘Anisi Bloomfield said all apprenticeship-type training in Tonga including welding, fishing, building and eletricians would benefit from the agreement.

He said this was a great opportunity for Tongans and academic institutions which ran technical training in Tonga such as the Fokololo ‘o e Hau Institute, the ‘Ahopanilolo and Tupou Tertiary Institutes.

However, the greater opportunity comes with stricter requirements.

Bloomfield said before the Brisbane’s Pacer Plus agreement, countries from the Pacific nations could choose whoever they wanted to go to New Zealand and Australia to pick fruit under the Recognised Seasonal Employer Work agreement.

Under the agreement signed last month the selection of apprenticeship candidates from the Pacific must involve the employers, representatives from Australia and New Zealand as well as the Tongan government.

Bloomfield said he could see this as a good move to make sure people who were selected could make use of the opportunity and never cause any other problems that could fail the programme.

He said there were other opportunities, including an agreement to allow more commodities from Tonga to be imported into New Zealand.

He said in the past it took five years for New Zealand to accept Tongan fruit to be sold in its markets.  The new agreement meant more fruit, such as zucchinis, would be exported to New Zealand.

Another advantage for Tonga was that the programme could open another door to New Zealand and Australia to upgrade and improve syllabii used by technical training schools in Tonga.

Bloomfield said this was a significant part of the agreement as the two countries wanted to make sure their syllabi were aligned.

“Pacer Plus is an extension of the already strong political and community ties we have with Pacific nations,” Australian Minister Fierravanti-Wells said.

“Deepening regional trade ties will help to increase the skills of workers throughout the Pacific, boost economic empowerment and strengthen the stability of Australia’s immediate neighbourhood.”

The Australian Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Investment, Senator Richard Colbeck said PACER Plus would provide an opportunity to create jobs, enhance private sector growth and raise standards of living in Pacific Island countries through enhanced regional trade and closer economic integration.

He said he was particularly excited by the potential for the Pacific to make more money from marine resources, fisheries and tourism potential.

The two countries are now processing the agreement requirement to enable apprentices from the Pacific nations to travel to New Zealand and Australia.

The main points

  • Nurses and apprentices in Tonga can now go to New Zealand and practice what they are being trained for in Tonga.
  • The opportunity follows an agreement signed by New Zealand and Australian Trade Ministers and representatives from Pacific nations at the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus talks in Brisbane last month.
  • Tonga’s Customs and Revenue CEO ‘Anisi Bloomfield said all apprenticeship-type training in Tonga including welding, fishing, building and plumbing would benefit from the agreement.
  • However, the greater opportunity comes with stricter requirements on who can go to Australia and New Zealand.

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