10 Feb 2010

Pacific labour ministers vow to cut youth unemployment at meeting in Vanuatu

7:40 am on 10 February 2010

Labour ministers from seven Pacific countries attending a high-level United Nations conference that begins in Vanuatu today have committed to creating more jobs and reducing youth unemployment.

Ministers from Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Fiji, Solomon Islands and Kiribati took part in a panel discussion yesterday as part of the lead-up to the Human Face of the Global Economic Crisis conference.

Annell Husband reports from Port Vila.

"One issue shared by all the countries represented in the discussion is youth unemployment, with the ministers from Kiribati and Vanuatu emphasising their reliance on seasonal labour schemes such as those in place in Australia and New Zealand for keeping young people in work.

Employment on foreign fishing vessels was also identified as important and the labour minister for Vanuatu, Moana Kalosil Carcasses told the panel how ni-Vanuatu also have the advantage of widespread land ownership.

But he says young people usually don't want to farm the land they own and for this reason his government is committed to encouraging them with incentives such as training and a ready market to return to their land and grow their own produce.

The minister says Port Vila will drown in young people if urban migration continues at its present rate and the return of more young men to agricultural work is the only sustainable solution."