Kiribati (pronounced Kiribas) is made up of 32 low-lying atolls and the raised phosphate island of Banaba. These atolls straddle the equator in the Pacific Ocean.
Kiribati’s atolls are widespread. Most of the atolls are less than two metres above sea level and are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
The atolls total 811 square kilometres of land distributed over 3.5 million square kilometres of ocean—an area the size of Western Australia and South Australia combined.
Kiribati’s population is estimated to be 115,000 people. The capital, South Tarawa, is only a five-hour flight from Brisbane.
The official spoken language used in the workplace is English, but the native language, i-Kiribati, is spoken widely on all the islands.
Faced with a growing population and the effects of climate change, international labour mobility programs provide an important opportunity for the people of Kiribati and the country’s economic future.
The Kiribati Ministry of Employment & Human Resources (KES) has established an Overseas Employment Unit to manage the administration of the Australian Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) and the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS).
KES has a dedicated Seasonal Worker Unit to coordinate the recruitment process. This includes screening workers to ensure they are motivated and have passed police checks, medical checks and fitness tests.
The Seasonal Worker Unit coordinates comprehensive pre-departure training through two internationally accredited training institutes: the Kiribati Institute of Technology, and the Marine Training Centre.
The training includes the development of core skills such as good communication, problem-solving and English language skills.
Advantages of recruiting workers from Kiribati
In Kiribati, the extended family system ensures both young and old are looked after equally, and i-Kiribati workers are known for their caring spirit.
They often take care of their own families as well as for older relatives and other elders in the village and community.
In conjunction with the Australia Pacific Training Coalition, the Kiribati Institute of Technology (KIT) provides skills training that leads to the Australian Qualifications Framework Certificate III in Aged and Community Care. The KIT also facilitates training upgrades to ensure workers’ skills are current.
This level of training provides the Australian aged-care sector with low-skilled and semi-skilled workers who can provide friendly, compassionate support to the elderly by helping with daily living, personal care and hygiene.
Typical duties include showering, dressing, assisting at mealtimes and with household duties such as tidying and cleaning.
A number of employers have engaged about 13 i-Kiribati aged-care workers in four locations across Australia, including Longreach and Bowen in Queensland, and Bundanoon and Goulburn in New South Wales.
Fisheries and maritime
Over the past 50 years, Kiribati has built a strong reputation in international labour migration, mobilising workers for merchant marine vessels, cruise ships and fishing vessels. Around 700 i-Kiribati seafarers are currently working on German shipping vessels.
Graduates from Kiribati’s Maritime Training Centre (MTC) are skilled to work on foreign fishing boats and, most importantly, they can work safely to international standards and work in harmony with other fishing vessel staff from a variety of cultural backgrounds.
The MTC produces graduates in a range of certificate courses across two streams: deck and engine. These graduates are skilled in able seafarer, deck and engine work, plus bosun and fitter and navigational watch duties.
Hospitality and tourism
The KIT has a memorandum of understanding with the MTC to jointly deliver hospitality skills training.
In the tourism sector, the MTC trains graduates across three streams:
Through the catering stream, graduates who undertake the Certificate for Basic Steward and Hospitality are qualified to become cooks and stewards. The MTC is renowned for being a highly disciplined training provider, delivering courses to exacting standards.
Hamilton Island in Queensland currently employs 35 i-Kiribati hospitality workers (14 men and 21 women) in its six-star resort. They are working as cooks, front of house staff, groundskeepers and kitchen stewards.
Many of these Kiribati workers have received gold and silver eminence awards at the resort. They have been recognised for their attention to detail, for exceeding the expectations of their roles and displaying company values of teamwork, excellence and leadership.
The Hayman Island Resort, also in the Whitsundays in Queensland, has 40 i-Kiribati workers: 17 men and 23 women. They have also received positive feedback on their performance in the workplace.
Technology and business
The KIT trains graduates with programs across three schools:
This level of training provides Australian businesses with workers skilled in:
To recruit workers under the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) or the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS), an Australian employer must be registered as an Approved Employer, or they must recruit workers through a labour-hire firm that is an Approved Employer.
To find out more about becoming an Approved Employer, visit the SWP employer information page on the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business website or the PLS employer information page.
Once approved, employers can recruit workers through Kiribati’s Overseas Employment Unit (OEU), which is part of the Ministry of Employment and Human Resources.
Seasonal Worker Programme
All recruitment of i-Kiribati workers into the SWP must be administered through the OEU.
Direct engagement of workers is cautioned, as all candidates must be nominated by the Urban and Island Councils and registered with the OEU.
To enquire about recruiting i-Kiribati workers through the SWP, contact the OEU by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone (+686 750 21097).
Pacific Labour Scheme
All recruitment of i-Kiribati workers into the PLS must be administered through the OEU.
Engagement of workers must follow the OEU’s registration and recruitment processes.
To enquire about recruiting i-Kiribati workers through the PLS, contact the OEU by email (email@example.com) or phone (+686 750 21097).
All candidates in the work-ready pool have received English training. Their fitness has also been assessed, and they have been deemed fit and ready for the specific jobs for which they are applying.
The Australian Government has two visa schemes available for i-Kiribati nationals to work in Australia.
The Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) provides access to unskilled work opportunities for up to nine months in the Australian agricultural and accommodation sectors (in selected locations). Work opportunities are also available for plant and machinery operators who are associated with the agricultural industry.
The Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) enables citizens of Kiribati to take up low-skilled and semi-skilled work in rural and regional Australia for one to three years.
For more information about the SWP or the PLS, contact the Overseas Employment Unit (OEU) of the Ministry of Employment and Human Resources by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone (+686 750 21097).
Candidates will receive training in English, be assessed as physically fit for the purpose, and receive a comprehensive pre-departure briefing before departing Kiribati. If candidates require fitness training, they are advised to pursue training and they can then reapply.
To register for the Seasonal Worker Programme or the Pacific Labour Scheme, an applicant from Kiribati must:
In addition, some Australian employers:
It is free to join the Seasonal Worker Programme and the Pacific Labour Scheme.
Applicants who meet the above criteria are invited to register their interest in joining the work-ready pool for the Seasonal Worker Programme or the Pacific Labour Scheme.
To register, contact the Overseas Employment Unit of the Ministry of Employment and Human Resources by email (email@example.com) or by phone (+686 750 21097).