Regional Young Entrepreneurs Forum in Fiji
Representatives of government officials, Chambers of Commerce, National Youth Councils and Young Entrepreneurs from five Pacific island countries met in Suva, Fiji from 29 June to 2 July 2016 at a Regional Young Entrepreneurs Forum to discuss a few strategic approach for youth entrepreneurship aimed at increasing investment in youth. The meeting recognizes that youth employment and entrepreneurship is the biggest issue that affects young people in the Pacific today with average youth unemployment rates at 23 per cent. The representatives were from Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu and Fiji. The Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce & Industry (VCCI) was represented at the meeting by Mr Stanley John Fred, a young finance business trainer at the VCCI.
The meeting re-examined the existing Pacific Youth Development Framework which targets four broad outcome areas however more emphasis were based on the need for more young people to have secured decent employment and the need for young people to have increase access to relevant education and training in formal and vocational sectors as well as involving more youth in entrepreneurship.
During the discussions, issues that need support were mentioned which included from across the region there are significant gaps between the skills young people acquire through formal education and the needs of employers and the wider economy, Pacific governments and development partners recognise these challenges and are devoting significant efforts and resources to improve labour market institutions, capacities of training institutions to engage with emerging labour market opportunities needs to be improved, strong political will is needed to address youth unemployment and the diverse impact of youth unemployment means there is often no clear policy leader in addressing the issue from a government perspective.
All participating countries were asked to draft their national action plans on how appropriate to deal with youth entrepreneurship and Vanuatu came up with the need for support, both financial and expertise, in holding the First National Youth Employment Forum as a first step in consolidating discussions and policies on youth entrepreneurship and a request for regional stakeholders such as PIPSO, Fiji Young Entrepreneurs Council, successful young entrepreneurs such as Hands on Harvest, POETCom (Pacific Organic & Ethical Trade Community) and SPCthat presented in the Regional Young Entrepreneurs Forum to also present at this First National Youth Employment Forum.
Further consultations will be held locally among collaborating institutions including donor partners to see when the first National Youth Employment Forum will be held.