Employment policy

Opening remarks at the Solomon Islands National Employment Policy Development Seminar

By Mr Matin Karimli, Director ILO Office for Pacific Island Countries at the Solomon Islands National Employment Policy Development Seminar

Statement | Honiara, Solomon Islands | 14 September 2021
Contact(s): bernard@ilo.org
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, Invited Guests and excellences,

As the Director for the ILO’s Office for Pacific Island Countries based in Suva I am privileged and delighted to be able to deliver my remarks for the opening of the seminar on the Development of the National Employment Policy for Solomon Islands.

Before I proceed, I would like to acknowledge the following persons:

• Honorable Frederick Kologeto, Minister of Commerce, Industries, Labour & Immigration, Solomon Islands.
• Mr. Riley Mesepitu, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Industries, Labour & Immigration, Solomon Islands.
• Mr. Mr. Josiah Manehia, Commissioner of Labour, Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Labour and Immigration
• Government Caucus members,
• Mr. David Tuhanuku, President, Solomon Islands Council of Trade Unions.
• Ms. Natalina Hong, CEO, Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industries.
• Mr. Kinan Albahnasi, Decent Work & Employment Specialist.
• Mr. Bimlesh Raj, Programme Officer, ILO Office for Pacific Island Countries.
• Invite quests and excellences.
• In addition, to anyone whom I may have forgotten.

This event today is the beginning of a journey towards the development of NEP in Solomon Islands. It is a clear commitment from the Government as well to expand job opportunities for all men and women in Solomon Islands, not just those with resources, but for all, urban and rural, encompassing all economic sectors including the vulnerable segment of the society such as youth, women.

As you know, Employment is a critical avenue toward achieving inclusive and pro-poor growth. Productive employment and decent work, not just work but decent work, are the main roadmap for strengthening vulnerable communities and national resilience.

The low labour force participation together with high level of vulnerability, especially for women, and the difficulties for youth to find decent job opportunity that meets the future of work stand out as the most deficiencies. Therefore, this event will chart a new dialogue across all line ministries to focus on the need for diversifying the economy to create new jobs to provide employment opportunities for the large population of young people entering the labour market in the next years; which means increasing formal jobs and addressing current productivity to achieve national development strategies.

Economic diversification and decent work will give opportunities and enhance the capacity of people in Solomon Islands to engage in productive activities that will strengthen the capacity in the face of climate change and COVID-19, rather than depending only on subsistence production. In this sense, productive Employment shall be a central means of nation building and wealth creation.

As we all know, the COVID-19 crisis has a significant impact on the labour markets in the Pacific Island Countries (PICs), including Solomon Islands, bringing disproportionate levels of unemployment and underemployment across different groups of people sectors and regions.

Evidence from the rapid assessment in Solomon Islands, a large number of workers are affected by the reduced income from losses of jobs, decreased working hours and a decrease in business revenues due to the partial closure of markets.
Young people and women, among others in the informal sector are the most vulnerable to job losses resulting from the crisis.

The consequences of the current or other crisis are affecting not only the size of Employment but also its composition in terms of forms of work, sector, skills and working conditions.

The best approach to strengthen the national economies in the PICs right now is to help reactivate labour markets and getting people back to work with some protection measures. On the longer term, countries should work toward safeguarding themselves against labour market vulnerabilities that were revealed during the crisis and addressing trends shaping the world of work, including climate change.

This requires reorienting national employment policies towards promoting a more job-rich and resilient recovery.

Recently the ILO in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme, the Government of Solomon Islands along with other partners under the UN Peace Building project undertook the training of close 400 youths on enterprise development in the rural sectors. The training was guided by ILO’s Employment and Decent Work for Peace and Resilience Recommendation (No. 205), Jobs for Peace and Resilience programme which combines employment-intensive investments, technical, vocational and entrepreneurial skills training.

Identifying employment policy priorities and transforming them into practice is a multifaceted process that requires solid commitment and coordination from all actors involved. It requires extensive efforts to define recovery measures and employment resilience policies and map them instrumentally through national implementation mechanisms.

I wish you all the very best for the rest of the seminar, please have an enjoyable learning experience that sets an agreement on the NEP, thank you sincerely for your attention!