Six months since the launch of the new partnership to assist Fijians impacted by the coronavirus, the benefits of the training courses are beginning to show.
The partnership was signed in July 2020 between the UN Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), Pacific Tourism Organization (SPTO), Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association (FHTA) and the Australian Government’s flagship education program, Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC).
Although the number of infections in Fiji may be low because of its relative isolation, the COVID-19 crisis has resulted in many Fijians either losing their jobs or working reduced hours. As a result, the partners collaborated to promote and deliver a series of online development training courses for employees who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The courses, which can be done using a smartphone app developed by APTC, are aimed at building skillsets in areas of interest to support those affected to engage in new employment opportunities or encourage the initiation of small business activity during and post COVID-19. There are currently two micro-credential courses and APTC is in the process of releasing two additional micro credential courses, four skills set courses and three micro qualifications throughout 2021.
Helen Leeson, Chief Academic Officer, for APTC, acknowledged the value of the partnership saying “APTC is committed to skills development in the Pacific and the partnership is a great opportunity to share these skillsets. We first introduced two micro-credential courses, they are the Digital Literacy Essentials and Communication Technologies for Business Success, and happy to launch two more today. The new courses are ‘COVID-Safe Work Training for Dining in’ and ‘COVID-Safe Work Training for Personal Services (Beauty and Nails)’”.
Around 1,442 applications were received from the various participating countries (Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Tonga) and numbers are expected to increase in the upcoming months.
A media event was held in Suva, Fiji on Monday 25 January to update stakeholders on the project progress, results achieved till date, challenges and outlook for 2021. Three APTC alumni’s who undertook one of the micro-credential courses shared their experience and how it has helped to improve their soft skills and their plans for the future.
“The course is an eye opener, especially if you are trying to get to corporate level. It teaches you how to deal with things professionally. I would strongly recommend these courses to others if there is an opportunity for APTC to expand,” said Susana Tuilau.
Another member of the alumni also shared his experience about the micro credential courses.
“It took me only 45 minutes to finish this course and it’s really beneficial for me in relation to what I am doing now. I just started working with one of the real estate agencies in the Western Division and this course has definitely taught me a lot about applying communication skills while on the job and outside of it as well,” said Semesa Vadigavuli.
All costs associated with these courses, including data packages, advocacy support, communication and monitoring reporting will be borne by UNDP through funding support from the Government of Japan.
Kevin Petrini, Deputy Resident Representative a.i. for UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji said, “Despite the short time frame and initial challenges, we are glad to say that we received around 1,442 applications from participating countries and the numbers are expected to increase in the upcoming months. This is all thanks to the great teamwork and effort from APTC, SPTO and FHTA.”
The main aim of this partnership is to support Fijians during these difficult times with the essential knowledge, skills and confidence in making responsible decisions when borders re-open and economies go into recovery.