Tonga Skills works as a catalyst for systemic reform within the national Tongan skills system. Building on lessons learnt from previous TVET investments in Tonga and the wider region, this program takes a different approach by prioritising local leadership, thinking and working sensitively within the cultural and political context, and assuming the role of a ‘broker’ to bring together key stakeholders and agencies for locally owned change.
Tonga Skills supports inclusive economic growth, specifically through strengthening the national skills system in Tonga to achieve this within a sustainable framework. Working in partnership with the Ministry of Education and the Tonga National Qualification and Accreditation Board, the program has established a dedicated Skills Development Fund that finances targeted skills training by local providers to facilitate business productivity and employment opportunities within the formal and informal sectors. Implementation and decision making takes place in collaboration with partners from government, the private sector and civil society, at central and island levels.
The program also targets groups who are often marginalised from the formal economy, and activities are designed to support women, people with disabilities or those who are geographically isolated to access skill development opportunities.
Tonga Skills began in late October 2016 and has made a strong start: at the end of the financial year we had a fully operational team in place, led by a local team leader, and had completed mapping of priority economic opportunities across all island groups.
Informed by this evidence base, the program commenced three pilot activities that supported Tongan skills providers to innovate their training delivery to maximise local private sector growth. These included a readiness for work program, a pearl carving skills program, and a whale watching swim guide and skipper training.