A group of local workers meeting with government officials ahead of their departure to work in New Zealand under the scheme
Source: M.P.M.C. Press Secretary
APIA, SAMOA – MONDAY 3 JULY 2017: The Seasonal Employment Unit, (S.E.U.) the locally based recruitment arm for the New Zealand and Australia seasonal employment programs has moved to the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labor, (M.C.I.L.)
The Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, (M.P.M.C) adopted and administered the programme since 2006.
Samoa became one of the eight Pacific Island countries that provided seasonal workers to overcome labour shortages in New Zealand’s horticulture and viticulture industries and the employment initiative has gone from strength to strength.
“But the toddler named RSE has matured to become the hopes of thousands of low income families,” reminisces M.P.M.C’s Chief Executive Agafili Tomaimano Shem Leo at the handing over ceremonies of the programs to M.C.I.L.
In the first year, a little over 600 Samoan pioneers were hired as workers for the New Zealand RSE. And in 2017, ten years later, 1,600 Samoans are working in New Zealand as seasonal workers for this picking season.
“The financial rewards for families of the workers are also astronomical,” he noted.
Consequently, the number of employers hiring Samoans has also sky-rocketed to close to 40 New Zealand companies and farms.
And aside from the horticulture and viticulture workers, a separate pilot project, which opened the door for ten Samoan carpenters to work in the Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Program, has met its objectives.
“The carpenters pilot one year contracts have been extended for another three years. And their contract extension is a plus for them to seek permanent residents in New Zealand,” added the M.P.M.C. Chief Executive. “There is also the possibility for more job openings for Samoan tradesman from this initiative.”
“We are also about to embark on a new venture that will see our people working in New Zealand’s tourism and fisheries industries under a pilot project exclusively designed for Samoans,” he added.
As for Australia, the Chief Executive said like New Zealand, Australia’s Seasonal Workers Program, and (SWAP) is also picking up momentum since Samoa entered that program five years ago.
Back then less than 20 Samoa workers were recruited under S.W.A.P. This year the number has increased to close to 200 and its slowly and surely increasing.
The latest development is the binding Memorandum of Understanding signed between government and Village recognizing the role of the village councils as stakeholders.
And processes which include Pre-Departure Pre-Health Screening are all on board.
In Welcoming the SEU Unit, MCIL’s Chief Executive Pulotu Lyndon Chu Ling called on the two Ministries for continued cooperation during the 6 months transition period.
“There is no doubt that the country has reaped the fruits of your hard labor during the first ten years of the RSE under the M.P.M.C.,” he added.
“And I challenge our new SEU unit to best their performance from their first ten years by lifting their performance caliber which will see more job opportunities for Samoans.”
Meanwhile the New Zealand RSE stakeholders are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the program in New Zealand this week.
Pulotu with the MCIL Minister Lautafi Fio Seilafi Purcell will be representing Samoa.