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E&OE …

Well, thank you very, very much Sue.

Can I start by thanking the Government of Samoa and the Australian-Pacific Technical College for hosting this event; Ministers, thank you very, very much for joining us today – I know it’s a very, very busy week this week, so thank you for making the time; to the acting Vice Chancellor; CEOs; private sector representatives; members of the schools and associations that have joined us; to you, Pat and to your team, thank you; to the students, most importantly, and the graduates; other distinguished guests.

Thank you, Sue, for your very, very kind introduction. It’s great to be here on my fourth visit to Samoa – I’m becoming a real local!

I am particularly pleased that I’m able to be here as we celebrate APTC’s 10th Anniversary. What a remarkable achievement – not just for the students, but for all the partners who have been involved.

This is our flagship program. APTC is a flagship program of the Australian Government and one which we expect to extend into a third phase from mid-2018.

So Ministers, thank you for your comments and certainly it’s been a fantastic enterprise to date, but there’s always room for improvements so thank you very, very much for your feedback.

Since 2007, APTC here in Samoa and across the Pacific has been celebrated for its quality training and its contribution to international development, individual development and economic growth.

Through the College, we are helping to increase the productivity of individuals and organisations in targeted industries. Of course, that includes hospitality, automotive, construction, health, community services and, more recently, inclusive education.

I am pleased the 2016 employer satisfaction survey reported a high percentage of employer satisfaction with our graduates. Just to highlight a few statistics, 83 per cent agreed that APTC graduates were more motivated and showed increased initiative, 83 per cent of graduates have been promoted or given greater responsibility, and 97 per cent agreed that graduates had demonstrated ability to perform work expectations. This is a great response from our key partners in this program, our employers.

Since 2007, as the Minister has said, over 1,300 Samoans have graduated with a range of qualifications opening doors for them in new and improved employment and giving them – most importantly – the potential to work overseas.

Every year, around 100 Samoans students gain skills and qualifications through courses at APTC. I understand there is an APTC graduation next week, in which 79 Samoans will graduate in areas such as education support, youth work, hospitality, plumbing, patisserie, leadership and management – including 18 from the initial Education Support Certificate III program, further demonstrating a commitment to inclusive education.

In 2008, all APTC trainers in Samoa were expats. Over the past 10 years, three Samoan graduates are qualified Australian accredited trainers: Daniella in cookery, who is busy in the kitchen preparing our lunch – thank you Daniella; Misspelled WordTuasivi in metal fabrication; and Misspelled WordMora in hospitality. Well done to all three of you!

This is a very good example of utilising the skilled work force in Samoa to continue training as well as setting pathways for graduates, and I’m very, very pleased. I promised Pat that I would highlight just – of course, these are only a number of stories! I’m very, very pleased that you’ve been able to put this publication together to talk about the impact of the stories, particularly here in Samoa.

The College has been proactive in developing courses specifically for Samoa, as well as contributing to the Samoan community based on local demand, such as Certificate III in Education Support and, of course, when Cyclone Evan hit Samoa in December 2012, APTC Samoa staff and students collaborated with partners to build 200 traditional homes for the most severely disadvantaged families.

Training was also provided to 15 local people from local villages to complete Certificate III in Construction and assist in building new homes. By doing so, not only did they help restore the dignity of these families, but also help those students to be able to embark on an economically viable future.

Can I thank the Government of Samoa and the employers for their partnership in support of APTC.

Specific acknowledgement must go to the Honourable Prime Minister of Samoa in driving the establishment of the APTC through the Forum Leaders Meeting ten years ago.

They indeed have been worthy champions of the College. And I think, Sue, when we had a function last at your home, the Prime Minister spoke to me about this and said, at the time, he said this is going to be a very, very good thing for the Pacific and for Samoa – very fortuitous words indeed!

Can I specifically also mention the National University of Samoa for the co-sharing of the campuses, the resources and knowledge further strengthening APTC’s relationship with local TVET providers.

To the employers here from the private sector, public sector and non-government organisations, thank you for your support and advocacy in developing skills in Samoa. Without you, APTC would not be the flagship program that it is today.

And to those many graduates here today, let me say it is indeed an honour to be able to join you here to mark this 10th Anniversary with you.

Happy birthday and thank you for your kind attention.

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