Apprenticeship Scheme: Upskill Grades 8, 10 and 12 Dropouts – Government To Fund, Industry Majors to Implement the Scheme



Recent Opposition statement reported in the media about developing skilled workforce in Papua New Guinea cannot come at the right time when over 80% Grade 12 students were unable to secure a place in tertiary institution. 

It is important to note that the K3.7 billion mentioned by the Opposition leader is a lot of money, especially when it is aligned with skill development. Program duration (How long it will take) and checks and balances remains to be seen.

The Opposition said ‘revenue to implement this policy would be sourced from the proceeds of LNG tax, resale of controversial K3 billion UBS loan and the Sovereign Wealth Fund via parliamentary budgetary process.’ [PNG Loop 19/02/2015]

It seems Don Polye, who was once deputy prime minister and treasurer, knows well how much money is floating around in government coffers. This is just politics but there is merit in his statement.

In the early years of our nation (1950s – 1960s) students choices were limited but policy makers can learn from it. Those who continued to be teachers and pastors were able to read and write well.

On the other hand, given the demand for work force, others became mechanics, drivers, operators, labourers and nurses among other skilled jobs. Many of the early schoolers have worked with construction companies like Dillingham Brothers, Department of Works and subcontractors to build the national highway we now called the Okuk Highway. Others started in Bougainville, Port Moresby and Lae during and after independence and eventually settled in various parts of the country.

So, why am I retelling the story of my father? He was a form 2 going onto form 3 but decided to be a mechanic. So he did – he became a Heavy Diesel Fitter Mechanist a few years after leaving school. His was successful in finding a place because there was demand for workers from companies like Bougainville Copper Mine, Dillingham Brothers and subcontractors.

Any government who wishes to develop skills today will have to create a working plan. A plan that would take into consideration the Grades 8, 10 and 12. And, how these young men and woman can be given the change to develop to their full potential. Begin by asking if are there any companies in Papua New Guinea who would want to make space for the 15 – 16 (Grade 8s), or 17 – 18 (Grade 10s) or 19 – 20 (Grade 12s) year olds. 

The key words are vocational training and apprenticeship. How can the Government creative incentives to attract companies to take in dropouts?

The Opposition (an alternative government) must know that with a K3.7 billion skill development plan, they do not have to create lots of vocational schools, or technical colleges of poly technological institutions. It is not only important to expand the facilities and resources, but to secure a working environment where newbies can rub shoulders with experts. This must be done through work placements and apprentice programs.

In fact, apprenticeship schemes are best programs as students are going to be working with company’s experts and equipment. No doubt, companies will welcome manpower addition to their workforce. But they will not want to pay or accommodate as they are companies wanting to make profit.

If a government comes up with a funded scheme, companies may step in to help. Unlike the early years, today there are World scale extractive, manufacturing, agricultural, building and logging industries in the country. Our current generation can be given the best opportunity if the Government creates are workable platform for companies to take in dropouts.


The opposition have come up with an alternative plan to develop skills. This was a call that came at a time when over 80% of Grades 8, 10 and 12 were dropping out of main stream school. Any government-private partnership for developing skill set in those age groups would be a step in the right direction.