Temalesi Lutu from Namuka Village in Bau, Tailevu has every reason to celebrate her achievement as the Australia-Pacific Technical College (APTC)’s first female national trainer. Progressing from being a tutor at APTC to becoming a qualified trainer, she took advantage of the opportunities presented to her over the last four years. Temalesi, or Tema as she is known to her colleagues and students is a trailblazer for other Pacific Island women, by leading the way forward for the development of Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) across the region.
APTC delivers qualifications accredited under the Australian Qualifications Framework, which are locally, regionally and internationally recognised. APTC is funded by the Australian Government, with campuses in five countries across the Pacific – Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.
Tema is currently employed by APTC as a Trainer in Hospitality Supervision and Hospitality Lodge at its School of Hospitality and Community Services. Tema joined APTC in March 2010 as a tutor in Training and Assessment with the School of Trades and Technology. Prior to joining APTC, she worked as a vocational education teacher at Ratu Navula College in Nadi, Fiji teaching hospitality courses.
She attained a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (TAA and TAE) in 2011 and 2012 respectively, and a Certificate III in Hospitality in 2014, facilitated by APTC. These qualifications were a significant aspect of her progression from being a tutor to becoming an accredited national trainer.
Commenting on her achievement, Tema elaborated on one of her hopes for employees in the hospitality industry, saying “my plan is to give training targeting all hospitality workers in the industry so that customer service is consistent, creating skills for life for individuals, and influencing change in people’s mindsets so they can see the benefit of what they can do if they take up hospitality as a career,” Tema says.
Sharing the process of becoming a national trainer for a recognised leader in TVET in the region, she explains that there were various professional development activities that she undertook.
“APTC has been supportive in a lot of ways,” she says. “Two of those ways were the creation of the senior trainer role which encouraged tutors to deliver results, and working towards SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals which were monitored every month,” she adds.
As a specialised trainer in Hospitality, Tema believes that with this achievement comes great responsibility. This isn’t limited in her responsibility to APTC, but extends beyond that to a greater responsibility to her country and to the region. “My area of expertise is important as my country, like many other Pacific Islands, has a tourism driven economy. If I can train my students using the highest standards, I believe what I will impart to them will be put to good use.”
She says the best part of her work is the feedback she receives from her students when they have learnt something new and are able to apply the skills acquired and knowledge gained from their training.
APTC’s Director, School of Hospitality and Community Services, Wendy Draayers acknowledges Tema’s achievement by saying, “we are both proud and excited by what Tema has achieved. She has made use of every opportunity presented to her during her employment with APTC and has been acknowledged for her efforts.”
According to Wendy, this has definitely paved the way for more female tutors who wish to become national trainers.
“The School of Hospitality and Community Services has a higher proportion of female staff and students due to the courses being offered, hence we are now moving towards recruiting more female national trainers.”
APTC has a robust tutor development program in place for its national staff employed across its five campuses throughout the region. This process was designed to build the capacity of APTC tutors in terms of both industry skills and teaching practices.
There are set qualifications the staff are supported to complete, including the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and an Australian vocational qualification in their area of expertise. These requirements are in accordance with what is set out for Australian trainers delivering the same programs. It creates an opportunity for national tutors to become accredited while delivering Australian programs in their own countries.
Wendy points out that “enthusiastic participation in both formal and informal professional development opportunities and a desire to continuously learn and improve will ensure progression within APTC,” adding, “we currently have two female trainers in Vanuatu and one in Samoa who have also been appointed recently.” APTC now has a total of 7 national trainers across its campuses and is in the process of appointing a total of 12 national trainers by the end of the year.
Wendy agrees that tourism is one of the most important sources of revenue across the Pacific and the sector relies on the integral support of the hospitality industry.
“The hospitality industry provides significant employment opportunities right across the Pacific. The role of APTC and all local providers of high quality TVET training is critical to the ongoing sustainability of hospitality and tourism in the Pacific,” she adds.