THE MINISTER of Foreign Affairs and External Trade William Haomae yesterday applauded the New Zealand Labour Mobility Scheme, which has already provided hundreds of jobs to Solomon Islanders since 2007.
The scheme was further strengthened yesterday morning with the signing of the 2010 Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Inter-Agency Understanding (IAU) by Minister Haomae and New Zealand High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, His Excellency, Mark Ramsden.
The Inter-Agency Understanding sets out each country's obligations regarding Solomon Islanders who travel to New Zealand for seasonal work in the horticulture or viticulture industry.
Minister Haomae said the signing of the Understanding signals a formalization of Solomon Islands relationship with New Zealand under the RSE and demonstrates to employees and employers the government’s seriousness in participation in the scheme.
“The understanding provides an opportunity to officially lay down a vision for Solomon Islands future participation in the RSE scheme by outlining a set of objectives that both governments can strive together to achieve,” Mr Haomae said.
Since the launching of the RSE Scheme in 2007, more than 450 Solomon Islands nationals have traveled to New Zealand to work in farms - harvesting fruits and vegetables and also worked in pack houses.
The money they earn has helped them start their own businesses in Solomon Islands, pay for their children’s school fees, extend or build new homes as well as providing for their families daily needs.
“The RSE scheme is by far one of the most effective forms of assistance that enables ordinary Solomon Islanders to directly benefit from their own efforts because the monetary and other benefits earned goes directly into their hands and their communities where it is most needed,” Mr Haomae said.
Solomon Islands is keen to increase its participation in the RSE so that more locals can have the opportunity to work in New Zealand.
To achieve this, the Government recognised the need to strengthen national processes and boost the country’s marketing image as a source of reliable and productive labour supply.
Solomon Islands participates in the RSE alongside other pacific islands countries where competition to attract employers is high.
Minister Haomae said Solomon Islands must also stand up to this competition and provide attractive packages and processes that can encourage employers to recruit and increase our participation in the scheme. -- GCU