LABOUR MOBILITY SUCCESS – A PILOT FOR THE PACIFIC IN TROPICAL AUSTRALIA

The year started on a high for thirteen i-Kiribati recruits on Hayman Island Resort in the Whitsundays, as they received their Certificate III in Hospitality after 12 months of theory, on-the-job training and assessments.

The i-Kiribati recruits are working on Hayman Island as part of the Pacific Microstates–Northern Australia Worker Pilot Program. When the program was announced, Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) Australia worked intensively with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to bring Mulpha Hotel Pty Ltd (Mulpha) – who manage the Hayman Island Resort – on board as the first company to use the program. PTI Australia Trade & Investment Commissioner, Caleb Jarvis, facilitated the successful recruitment mission to Kiribati, where from 80 interviews, 32 i-Kiribati were offered positions at Hayman Island Resort. They commenced their positions in October 2016.

Valued at over $30 billion, Australia’s tourism industry is the country’s largest services export and one of the biggest employers, with almost one million people engaged in the sector. However, in remote parts of Australia, particularly Northern Australia, access to skilled labour is one of the greatest challenges the sector faces.

Sixteen months on, it is fantastic to see the success of the Pacific Microstates–Northern Australia Worker Pilot Program for both Mulpha and the i-Kiribati, and to see Mulpha’s ongoing commitment to developing their i-Kiribati recruits.

Mulpha’s Executive General Manager of Human Resources, Allan Renkema, says the i-Kiribati have added real value to the Hayman Island Resort team.

‘We are so proud of these employees achieving the recognition they so richly deserve. They have settled in well [at] Hayman and are working very hard in their designated roles. It is a pleasure each time I arrive at Hayman to see their smiling faces and they themselves recognising the opportunity they have in that they are able to learn new skills and to provide financially for themselves and for their families.’

While many of the i-Kiribati had prior experience in the hospitality sector, the Certificate III in Hospitality provides the recruits with a widely-recognised formal qualification and the opportunity to gain or expand on their skills in hospitality. The course reflects the skills in the areas of housekeeping and stewarding, as well as knowledge on the broader hospitality and tourism industry, diversity, work health and safety, communicating in a team environment, and customer service.

Liniane, who works in housekeeping, was grateful for the opportunity and describes how through her role she is gaining valuable, transferable skills and experience.

‘It’s given us more knowledge about the jobs we have and [has] helped us to do our jobs better,’ Liniane said.
Caleb Jarvis was thrilled to hear about the graduation of the i-Kiribati recruits.

‘This graduation is a testament to the success of the pilot program. It provides real opportunity for Pacific Island people, particularly those in countries that are vulnerable to the impact of climate change, like Kiribati.
‘It’s critical that the Australian Government continues to provide improved pathways for Pacific Islanders to work in Australia. As you can see from Hayman Island, the advantages of labour mobility go beyond just the obvious benefits of being able to work overseas and derive an income through remittances. The real value lies in Pacific Islanders being able to learn through exposure and experience. It’s equipping them for the future and will benefit the region as they take their new skills and experience back to the Pacific Islands.

‘I would like to congratulate all the i-Kiribati graduates. What a great achievement for you and your families and a testament to your hard work,’ Mr Jarvis said.