Working together to upskill workforce

Saturday July 18, 2020 Written by Published in Education
Patricia Barton. Patricia Barton.

The government’s Fee Free initiative offers a chance to those who may not have been able to study previously, to upskill and develop in their workplace.

A local business owner sees the Fees Free initiative as an excellent opportunity to upskill staff regardless of a subsidy or not.

Bond Store chief executive officer Patricia Barton said they have not had any issues with their training subsidy applications as they have 11 of their employees enrolled in various courses with both the Cook Islands Tertiary Training Institute (CITTI) and the University of the South Pacific (USP).

“We see this as an excellent opportunity to upskill our staff regardless of whether we get a subsidy or not,” Barton said.

“The way the courses have been scheduled works well for us as it means that not everyone is off at training at the same time but everyone gets the opportunity to undertake training.”

Barton said they were thankful to the government for the worthwhile Fees Free initiative.

“At some stage hard business decisions will need to be made as we have been able to retain all our staff with the help of the subsidy despite turnover being way down,” she said.

“If we don’t get the subsidy we will just need to get more creative with our business strategies.”

Institute director Akaiti Maoate, who clarified some concerns around courses and the training subsidy said that no employees or students are being turned away from the training institute.

Maoate said they have been working very closely with businesses and individuals to identify the most appropriate courses to enrol in and cater for their specific needs.

She said all courses delivered at the Institute, as advised on the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management’s Economic Response Plan website, are eligible for the Training Subsidy and Fees Free initiative. 

“All courses have been quality assured to meet the requirements of the training subsidy with respect to hours of delivery, assessment and course objectives,” Maoate said. 

“If businesses are taking up any of these courses, there will be no issues with qualifying for the training subsidy.”

She said the number of courses they can deliver is dependent on available and suitably qualified tutors. 

They have managed to include additional cohorts for courses, she said which is really exciting and allows more people to participate, and they are honoured to be contributing the economic response plan and the Training Subsidy. 

Maoate said that through the Fees Free initiative, barriers to learning have been eased especially for those who have always wanted to study at tertiary level but found it difficult with the cost of fees and time. 

She acknowledged that not everyone will want to take up vocational studies at this time, but it has been great to see the increase in interest and enrolments coming through.

“We have an increased interest across both campuses in all areas of courses in Hospitality, Trades and Business courses,” Maoate said.

“Many businesses are taking advantage of our upskilling packages which includes “bundles of learning” in these areas addressing a variety of courses.”

She added that staff are working around the clock to keep up with the exciting initiative to support upskilling right across the nation.

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