|Case Studies on Technical and Vocational Education in Asia and the Pacific - Fiji (UNEVOC - ACEID, 1996, 28 p.)|
All impact studies in this general area of training became obsolete after the coups of 1987 when there was a sudden drop in economic activity. The most salient feature of the manpower situation after 1987 was the emigration of between 5000-6000 persons per year between 1987 and 1990. In 1991 alone some 1300 emigrants were occupationally classified as professional, technical, administrative, managerial, clerical and supervisory, according to information provided by the Bureau of Statistics.
Since Government has not undertaken a complete manpower resources study since 1987, there is no primary documentation available for reference. The "evaluation" of the effectiveness of vocational training given here is therefore anecdotal and based on the verbal opinions of the employers and trainees interviewed.
The FIT is satisfied that through its industry contacts, the various schools and Boards, it is responding adequately to the technical training requirements of industry, especially at the trades levels, but needs further development for it to be able to provide the full range of courses at the technician levels and also in advanced technology. The assistance it has received through the Auckland Institute of Technology, New Zealand and particularly through the most recent EC aid package in equipment purchase, curriculum development and staff training has given it the assurance of adequate standards, but its shortage of trained teachers with appropriate academic qualifications and industrial experience, together with the rigid set of approvals under which it operates, acts as a straitjacket to further development.
But as of 1992 the FIT has been given more autonomy in the use of its resources with a view to eventually developing it into a polytechnic. A Master Plan to allow for this to eventuate is in the process of being developed. Once this happens then the FIT will come of age and operate at the level of similar institutions in Australasia.
The Fiji National Training Council is the other large provider of vocational training, especially through its Apprenticeship and Trade Testing Schemes, and other short training courses dealing with the enhancement and upgrading of specific skill areas. In the minds of the recipients of training and their sponsoring organizations, it has continued to fill a gap in training which the FIT does not have the flexibility to provide.
But the FNTC has been providing this type of training activity for the last 20 years without developing a strong consultancy component in the service it provides. This deficiency is being addressed now with staff retraining plans in the processes of being developed. The other criticism of the FNTC is that it has not been able to satisfy the training requirements of the small employer. While it will mount a group training scheme for groups of small employers, the initiative for the formation of these groups is largely left to the employers themselves rather than being spearheaded by the institution, which is prepared. A Mobile Training Scheme introduced in 1992 is attempting to address this problem for rural employers.
Furthermore most of the training programmes are run during the day when small employers can ill-afford to release employees for one day, let alone for courses which run from one to sometimes twelve weeks, depending on the particular course programme. There are not enough courses being run during the evenings or on Saturdays when workers from small organizations can attend. As a result most of the small employers have continued to pay their training levies for the last 20 years without deriving any training benefits at all from the levy thus paid. Clearly a change in the overall strategy for the FNTC is urgently required.
In-so-far as the other job-related training mentioned in this brief account is concerned they appear to be satisfactory from the point of view of both the employers and the trainees. An in-depth study is however absolutely necessary to catalogue the vocational education and training scene in detail and to determine true impact on the economy.