The Department of Labour (DoL) and Youth Challenge Vanuatu (YCV) have collaborated on the ‘Ready for Work’ Program, aiming to assist unemployed youths.

This is a partnership agreement that the DoL has with YCV, and also with the Vanuatu Institute of Technology (VIT) to provide skills training and other tourism businesses.

This program aims to tackle the mindset and brain drain challenge, as many Ni-Vanuatu believe that working overseas is the sole option. Families are often shocked when separated due to this choice. To bridge this gap, the Department of Labour (DoL) has decided to join forces with YCV. They have initiated training for students interested in tourism, offering them opportunities to secure jobs and avoid the challenges of working abroad.

YCV’s Career Development Coordinator, Larisa Siba, shared that COVID-19 has created a significant gap in the tourism industry. With people traveling less, the sector is working to address these gaps.

The goal is to ensure that when workers choose to move on, there are others ready to replace them.

It’s a three-month program that began at the end of October, November, and December. Initially, 30 youths joined, and along the way, a small number have left. Currently, approximately 22 participants continue with the program.

According to the feedback received during the students’ internship, six have secured jobs and been hired. Others are still undergoing internships, and it is hoped that they will determine how many will transition to permanent positions after completing the internship, Mrs. Siba said.

With the placement of the youths in each hotel, five are now full-time staff at Moorings Hotel, and one is at Iririki Island Resort. The General Manager (GM) of Moorings, Anita Ambong, conveyed gratitude, stating that Moorings Hotel is fortunate to have interns who have helped them considerably.

When the students arrived, they filled the gap by learning from the staff who assisted them in the areas they wanted to engage in.

“We have a shortage of staff and need to fill the gap. The interns have blended in well, allowing us to cover shifts where there is no one available,” she said.

Ambong reflected that during the festive season, the operation was exceptionally busy, prompting them to bring the interns on board and hire them permanently.

She mentioned that they have received many interns in the past, with most coming from rural centers on other islands. However, with YCV, this is the second cohort they have taken through the initiative in collaboration with the DoL.

“The program is excellent, and if youths find it hard to get a job, the YCV and DoL program is a good channel they can follow, especially in the tourism industry; this is where they can thrive,” the GM said.

An intern, now a permanent staff at Moorings Hotel, Rex Tabi, shared that through this training program, he secured a job during his third week of internship. He signed a contract with Moorings and is now working as a full-time staff in the kitchen department.

He wants to encourage youths out there, stating that if they have dropped out of school and can’t pursue further education, the YCV and DoL program is a very helpful initiative that can assist them in finding a job.

“If the second cohort of this program starts, don’t miss out on the opportunity,” Tabi said.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Siba said there were many youths who showed interest in the program, but only 30 were selected.

If this pilot project is successful, they can increase the number of youths in the future.

Through the YCV program, they provide a small allowance of VT5,000 for the interns to use for bus fare. However, this time, through the partnership with the DoL, the department has increased the allowance to VT10,000.