Honourable Jone Usamate, Fiji’s Minister for Employment, Labour and Productivity officiating at the celebration.
The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Pacific Technical and Further Education (Pacific TAFE) celebrated the accreditation of its courses at the Holiday Inn in Suva on 7 October, 2016.
Pacific TAFE has been able to achieve international accreditations in Australia and New Zealand in Commercial Cookery, Hospitality Operations, Education and Care, Community Development programmes and in IT.
Furthermore, ten (10) qualifications have been externally accredited by the Fiji Higher Education Commission as the first skills based provider qualification in Fiji to be accredited to the Fiji Qualifications Framework. These are in IT, Office Management, HR Management, Management Practice, Commercial Cookery, Hospitality Operations and Accounting.
Honourable Jone Usamate , Fiji’s Minister for Employment, Labour and Productivity acknowledged Pacific TAFE and USP “for its continuous efforts to produce quality human capital with internationally recognised qualifications”.
He urged USP to continue working towards excellence saying that since its establishment, the University has become a reputable tertiary education institution in the Pacific.
“I am glad to hear that the 2013-2018 University’s Strategic Plan makes provision for skills-based qualification to be mainstreamed and for pathways established to higher studies,” he stated.
He noted that the international validation of qualification is important because it sends the important message that graduates are being produced to meet required standards.
“The quality of education and training are a critical driver of any country’s progress – better and more customer focused education and training system provides better opportunities for our people here in Fiji and in the Pacific by addressing the needs of our labour markets here in the Pacific and internationally,” he said.
According to Mr Usamate, there is a need to ensure that Fiji is focusing efforts on areas in which needs exist so that training and education is demand-driven for graduates to get jobs or start organisations that create jobs for others.
“We need to have confidence in the quality of such educational training programmes. We need to be assured that they are reliable and valid, that they produce the kind of people who have the skills, knowledge and attitudes that such programmes say that they will provide,” he stated.
Mr Usamate said the need for education and training reform is always critical and here in Fiji we are always talking about the success of countries like Singapore.
“One of the key factors in Singapore’s modernisation legacy was their firm commitment towards education reforms where every Singaporean was given the opportunity to be educated in top educational institutions both locally and abroad.
“Growth sectors for Singapore was identified and they focused their education and training to these key sectors to enable economic growth and business development,” he explained.
Mr Usamate assured that in Fiji, Government has a firm commitment to reforming education.
“We are committed to enhancing accessibility to education and to getting rid of discrimination and ensuring equity. We are further committed to enhancing quality and excellence of our education and training sector.
“We still have the challenge of skills mismatch, underemployment and unemployment in our labour market but we will continue to address these issues,” he confirmed.
The Government he said, has made great strides and it will continue along this path.
He further noted that education and training institutions have a responsibility to ensure that they add value to Fiji’s national human capital stocks and development which will in turn create jobs and businesses.
“They must meet current and future needs of industries and potential growth sectors,” he added.
Mr Usamate also urged industries to continue to engage education institutions like USP in preparing work ready graduates saying that an economy benefits when academia and providers work together.
Professor Richard Coll, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Learning, Teaching and Student Services (LTSS) said Pacific TAFE has grown rapidly with the provision of high quality skills and professional development and their achievement has been remarkable
Professor Coll commended Mr Hasmukh Lal, Director Pacific TAFE and his team, saying that accreditations were not earned overnight but showed just how much work had gone into it.
“And that is what USP strives to do, we consider ourselves a premier institution,” he noted.
Mr Hasmukh Lal, acknowledged the staff saying the achievement was possible through the hardworking and vision-support staff.
Mr Lal also paid tribute to the members of Senate, Academic Programmes Committee, Teaching Quality Committee, Pacific TAFE Standards & Quality Committee, Senior Management and section heads of USP saying that, “nothing is achieved if there is no institutional teamwork”.
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