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Minister addresses impact of labour mobility on local businesses

By Talaia Mika

APIA, SAMOA – 09 NOVEMBER 2022: The impact of the “brain drain” of semi-skilled and skilled workers under the Labour Mobility Schemes and the concerns raised by local employers who have lost workers they trained and invested in their up-skilling, are some of the critical issues that not only Samoa but other Pacific Island need to seriously address.

This was put forward by the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Labour, Leatinu’u Wayne Sooialo when he opened Pacific Labour Mobility Annual Meeting in Apia yesterday, attended by over hundred stakeholders.

According to Leatinu’u, numerous challenges remain, which prompts the need for Samoa to ensure that a balanced approach is considered in line with other national development priorities.

“For instance, the concerns regarding “brain drain” due to some of our semi-skilled and skilled workers being sent overseas under the Labour Mobility Schemes and the concerns raised by our local employers who have lost workers that they’ve trained and invested in their up-skilling, are crucial issues that I’m certain, not only Samoa but also all our Pacific Island countries need to seriously address,” he said.

The theme of this Meeting “Reinvigorating Labour Mobility Cooperation for Development” reiterates the opportunities for all labour mobility stakeholders to re-engage, reset and re-commit to advancing an effective level of cooperation that can enhance mutually beneficial development gains.

PLMA delegates
PLMA delegates

Delegates of the sixth Pacific Labour Mobility Annual Meeting 2022 following yesterdays opening.

The Minister believes that such level of cooperation also needs to take into account the foundations of several Pacific cultures and heritage which have ensured social harmony in the Pacific Islands region.

Aside from brain drain concerns, families continue to face numerous challenges arising from those selected in the seasonal schemes such as the impact on the separation of couples and families.

Leatinu’u also stressed that there is no denying the fact that increased levels of workers from Samoa migrating overseas for the schemes have affected families with families being separated for prolonged periods of time and other social issues that have arisen.

However, despite the concerns arising, seasonal employment have improved the standard of living for many families and Samoa’s economic recovery during the pandemic.

Leatinu’u says it is perhaps best reflected in the substantial increase in remittances that Samoa received in the 12 months period since the new Government took office.

During the 12 months to September 2022, Samoa received a total of $791.7 million in remittances, a substantial increase from the $607.8 million remittances in the same 12 months to September 2021.

Meanwhile, the four day meeting on its’ third day today and will discuss Priority actions for FY2023/24, procedures for reporting agreed priority actions to the Pacific Dialogue, demand prospects for Pacific labour mobility workers, and LSU & AE Experiences discussing opportunities and challenges.