A hundred and fifty Australia-Pacific Technical College (APTC) students had the privilege to meet with representatives from employer groups, who shared their wisdom and experience at the recent ‘APTC2Work’ forum. The forum is held at the end of each semester at APTC in Samoa. Speakers from across the Samoan business community volunteer their time to come and speak to students in the last week of their training at APTC. Speakers are asked to provide advice to the graduating students on the best way to approach their reintegration into the workforce following their studies.
Speakers who participated at the final ‘APTC2Work’ forum for 2014, were Mr Barry Glover from Lamana Group, Mrs Yassi Yazdani from Montessori Pre School and Mr Ian Black from Sails Restaurant. The employers provided valuable insights into what they expect from their employees when they return to the workplace. They also shared their expectations of graduates who had been upskilled at APTC and their potential to contribute to their employer organisations following the successful completion of their studies.
Mr Glover employs and oversees the work of 250 construction workers at the site of the Taumeasina Resort. He shared his work history with students, explaining how he started in the industry as a labourer and then an apprentice, before eventually owning his own large and successful business. As an employer, he encouraged students to be honest, forthright and confident. According to Mr Glover, “bosses hate whingers, so be positive”. He also encouraged students to continue learning as knowledge and education is key. He also pointed out that it is important to share this knowledge with their peers in the workplace. Mr Glover drew on established wisdom from poetry to encourage students to take charge of their own careers, finishing his address by quoting the famous last lines of the poem Invictus, “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul”.
As an employer in the Early Childcare industry, Mrs Yassi Yazdani also reiterated desirable qualities in employees, particularly in dealing with children, which are honesty and humility. She also said that “every employer will be glad to have an employee who shows initiative,” and that “the relationship between the employer and the employee must be based on trust”. She shared stories of the good times and the bad times as a business owner and employer and encouraged students not to give up. Mrs Yazdani suggested that the students should be able to show their employers their personal development following their studies at APTC. She also encouraged students to illustrate through their actions and commitment in the workplace, the difference in their dedication to their work, their sincerity and level of skills.
Mr Ian Black has been a strong and consistent supporter of APTC since the campus opened in Samoa in 2007. He reminded the students of the history of APTC as an Australian government program that aimed to skill people in trades and vocational areas for the very first time in the Pacific. He shared stories of some of the graduates of APTC that have worked at Sails and then gone on to further their careers both in Samoa and in other countries such as New Zealand. He shared the experience of Solomua Fa’amanu who is an APTC graduate who was previously employed at Sails and is now the Sous-Chef (second in command) for two highly regarded restaurants in New Zealand. Solomua’s goal is to come back to Samoa and open his own restaurant and employ more Samoans. Mr Black emphasised the importance of graduates presenting themselves well when meeting with employers and potential employers, asking questions and working as a member of a team to share new skills with others in the workplace. He said that if an employee “shows me commitment, then I will look after you”. He encouraged employers to allow APTC graduates to be innovative and to do things in new ways, so that the whole workplace will benefit.
Many of the APTC students had questions at the end of the forum including questions surrounding strategies to exude more confidence if they are shy or nervous. All the speakers encouraged Pacific Island graduates to show their confidence to the employer and to speak up, as this level of communication between employee and employer is important in the working environment. Mrs Yazdani suggested that if “you are not confident, you should practice in front of the mirror to help yourself.”
APTC Country Manager Mrs Francis Howes said that “all of our speakers today have spoken from their own experiences for the benefit of the APTC students, and shared diamonds of information. APTC thanks the employers of Samoa who support APTC in many ways including this forum, work placements and providing jobs for graduates”.