MORE than 10,000 Pacific islanders from 14 Pacific Island Countriesnow hold internationally-recognised Australian qualifications through training provided by the Australia-Pacific Technical College (APTC) since the college began in 2007.
This milestone achievement was celebrated during a graduation ceremony in Suva today where more than 200 Fijians were awarded qualifications in 19 different programs.
Many Solomon Islanders studied and graduated from APTC over the years.
APTC is an innovative development program funded by the Australian Government, which delivers Australian skills and qualifications for a wide range of vocational careers for skilled workers across the Pacific.
The occasion was graced by the presence of His Excellency, The President of Fiji, Major-General (Ret’d) JiojiKonrote, who delivered the keynote address.
Speaking at ceremony, His Excellency, Major-General (Ret’d) JiojiKonrotetold the students that they were privileged to be graduates of APTC.
“You are fortunate that you are graduating from an institution such as APTC. Your training has prepared you exceptionally well not just in terms of the vocational skills you have developed. But to also play your part in helping communities improve their quality of life and to become employers in your own industry areas.”
He said that as a developing nation, Fiji is determined to promote and advance the education of its people. He also encouraged graduates to make the best use of the skills to make meaningful contributions to the development of Fiji.
“Your country needs your input. As aspiring leaders, you must at every stage of your life play your part in addressing some of the global challenges which include climate change, natural disasters, access to quality education as well as social dilemmas such as rising poverty and unemployment, poor governance, to name just a few,” His Excellency added.
Fiji has contributed the largest number of APTC graduates totaling2996 Fijians.
The graduate address was delivered by Amit Sharma – APTC’s 10,000th graduate.
Mr Sharma is from Fiji and completed a Certificate III in Engineering – Fabrication Trade at the APTC Samoa campus.
While expressing his gratitude to APTC and the Australian Governmentfor supporting the upskilling of Pacific Islanders, Mr Sharma encouraged his fellow graduates to make the best use of the skills that they developed during their training to strive towards success.
“Employers need workers who stand out and can deliver at the highest standards, and I strongly believe an APTC qualification gives one such an ability.
“There will be challenges but we are now trained to deal with any hurdles that stand in our way, as well as take up any opportunity that knocks on our door,” he added.
During the ceremony, Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Honourable Ms ConcettaFierravanti-Wells extended the best wishes of the Australian Government to the graduating students through a congratulatory video message.
In her closing remarks, Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, Margaret Twomey, said,“Through the APTC, Australia is helping Fijians develop their skills and employment opportunities.” MsTwomey also encouraged graduates to use their new skills and knowledge to create positive changes to enrich their communities.
The graduates who come from across Fiji, have studied at APTC campuses in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Vanuatu.14 of the 19 programs were delivered at APTC’s Fiji campus.
The largest groups to graduate at this ceremony were the Certificate III in Individual Support and Certificate IV in Disability programs, which had cohorts of 21 students.
Members of APTC staff also graduated at this ceremony with qualifications in Certificate IV in Business, and Certificate IV in Leadership and Management, which was offered for the first time in Fiji.
APTC continues to work collaboratively with TVET providers and local industry stakeholders in the region. In Fiji, APTC has partnered with the Fiji National University to jointly deliver the Applied Fashion and Design Technology and Painting and Decorating programs.
Next year, the two institutions will collaborate on the delivery of the Electrotechnology Electrician and Refrigeration and Airconditioning programs focusing on sustainable energy outcomes.
Through its partnership with the University of the South Pacific, APTC continues to provide training to Commercial Cookery and Hospitality students at the APTC Pacific Fusion Restaurant.