- Vanuatu’s location, geography, climate and dearth of natural resources are all structural challenges to its economic growth.
- Ever since independence 40 years ago the Republic has depended on foreign aid to make ends meet.
- To be truly independent, Vanuatu must achieve sustainable growth by its own means.
- Our best chance for sustainable growth lies in 21st-century knowledge industries (financial services, software design, communications, marketing, to name a few).
- These industries are not constrained by space, use little physical resources, and are mostly green.
- They only require an educated workforce and high-speed Internet.
- Vanuatu lags behind in education and the economy is already struggling with a deep shortage of educated workers.
- The government has made positive strides in primary education but we need to support our youth all the way through post-secondary education.
- Students should learn English or French and access computers from the primary level, so they can enroll later in quality high schools and colleges abroad/online.
- Educating our future knowledge workers will require extra public revenue, but our only room for economic growth is in knowledge industries.
- That chicken-and-egg paradox can be solved by importing high-skilled workers.
- However in June 2020, the government introduced a new list of “reserved occupations” that bars foreigners from working in certain managerial, professional and technical positions.
- Many of the newly listed occupations require post-secondary education.
- While the list is an important tool to preserve opportunities for Ni-Van, it doesn’t address the shortage of tertiary-educated workers among them.
- We actually need foreigners to help fill available positions and attract more Foreign Direct Investment to Vanuatu.
- In the knowledge economy, money and human capital are inextricably linked. The former will come on the condition that we welcome the latter.
- Highly educated foreign workers can kickstart Vanuatu’s knowledge economy, inspire our youth to follow their example, and help educate the next generation of Ni-Van who will ultimately reap the benefits.
Read the full article to discover how education and immigration can be an opportunity for Vanuatu.