AN EFFECTIVE mechanism to recognise different qualifications across the Pacific region is needed to enable more people to work across nations, according to delegates at an inter-governmental meeting.

The topic was discussed at a seminar on mutual recognition of qualifications between members of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), held in New Zealand in February.

The seminar was a component of negotiations over the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus – launched to help PIF members benefit from enhanced regional trade and economic integration.

The objective of the seminar was to consider a regional framework that recognises the qualifications of and assures the mobility of qualified workers within the PACER Plus area and also to other international labour markets.

Pacific islands countries (PCI) chief trade adviser Edwini Kessie said it was important for there to be a credible framework for the recognition of qualifications, in order to facilitate labour mobility within the region.

“There is acceptance among PACER Plus Parties that greater labour mobility within the region will confer significant benefits on the PICs, which currently have preferential access to limited segments of the labour markets of Australia and New Zealand,” Dr Kessie said.

The director of Papua New Guinea’s National Training Council Secretariat, Kinsella Geoffrey, said the seminar informed him of the best practices on the recognition of qualifications from other countries.

“A mutual recognition framework among PACER Plus Parties will significantly raise the confidence and trust levels of labour receiving countries. It will give some form of assurance that qualifications have met some verifiable standards which, in turn, would promote greater labour mobility among qualified workers in the Pacific region,” he said.

There were several regional and multilateral qualifications frameworks that were considered at the seminar, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations qualifications reference framework and the Caribbean community qualifications framework, though discussions continue.

The PIF member states attending were the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu

Staff from the South Pacific Board for Education Quality, the Australian Qualifications Framework Council and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority were also present.