Minister for Youth and Sports (Retired) Commander Viliame Naupoto presents Overall Best Apprentice of the Year Thoedore John Danford with his trophies at the Apprenticeship Graduation last week.
Fiji National University’s National Apprenticeship and Training Scheme has been highly commended by the Government.
Minister for Youth and Sports, (Retired) Commander Viliame Naupoto, while making his address at the National Apprenticeship Graduation Ceremony as chief guest, said he was proud of the scheme and its contribution to the country.
“I am proud to note that apprenticeship training has been one of the most significant skills development programmes in Fiji, and its contribution to the development and growth in Fiji over the years has been invaluable,” said the Minister.
Skilled manpower, he said, was central to the development of any economy and this makes skills training extremely critical.
Since 1963, the scheme has trained 8,354 apprentices in various trades. FNU’s National Apprenticeship Scheme today offers a total of 21 programmes in the trade field and seven in the technical area. Apprentice numbers have gradually increased in the past few years, recording a nine percent increase from last year. There are currently a total of 372 apprentices in the scheme.
“Apprentices, such as our young graduands today (last Friday), end up being the elite amongst the tradespersons in the country. They are in high demand not only in Fiji but overseas as well,” said the Minister.
He said it was a known fact that many former apprentices are now CEOs, general managers and hold very senior positions in various organisations in the country and abroad.
“This, ladies and gentlemen, exemplifies the strength and quality of the National Apprenticeship Training Scheme, which was put in place by the Government to improve the quality of our tradespersons, and enhance the quality of the goods and services produced in the country,”
To further augment the skills of our workforce and provide more opportunities, in particular to our youth,FNU last year reinvigorated the apprenticeship training programme, making it more attuned to the needs of industry, with the aim of fast tracking and enabling apprentices to complete the requirements of the programme in three to four years instead of the four to five years taken in the past.
“This will not only reduce the cost of training apprentices for employers, but importantly, ensure that we have greater numbers of tradespersons trained in this shorter period of time, as is the case with several countries abroad having the same scheme,” said the Minister.
The National Apprenticeship Scheme, he said, was dear to his Ministry as it is one scheme that systematically grooms and develops our youth for better prospects and future.
“It is in sync with our wishes to involve young persons in decision making and bodes well with our desires for a more inclusive society.”