Jobs in PNG: An Observation on Immigrants, Opportunity and Development In Papua New Guinea

I have been thinking about the different people who have visited, lived and worked and called PNG home. Many foreigners arriving in PNG (Immigrants) either are married into PNG or have white-collar jobs, but there are five (5) groups who fall outside this description. These groups were (are) influential in developing the country during the post and pre-independence era, even to this day. Actively creating jobs in PNG.

Jobs in PNG and Observation on Immigration and Development

I was born 4 years after PNG gained independence. That meant that I grew up with relatives who have seen the early stages of development through their own eyes. Many stories I’ve heard: 
  • missionaries making the first contact, teasing people with salt and introducing to the Good News; 
  • Tultul and Luluais encouraging people to use digging sticks to build roads or getting them together for patrol officer’s visits; 
  • young men employed to work at the Bougainville Copper Mine; 
  • Highlanders and Sepiks recruited to go to the New Britain provinces to plant cocoa, coconut or oil palm; 
  • companies like the Dillingham Brothers cutting their way through the inaccessible highlands provinces; 
  • the gaining of independence itself; and many other good-old fore stories. 
The Jobs back in the early 1960s were for PNG locals. Expatriates were trainers and mentors. 

Just before I turned seven, I’ve seen Australian and New Zealand contractors (like the Transet Contractor and Paragon) building roads into places like Okapa in the Eastern Highlands and Gumini-Salt Nomane in Simbu provinces and other parts of the country. Apart from all national workers, several of them were senior Philippines tradesmen who were very influential imparting skills to new PNG apprentices.

Then, I went to schools – community school, high school, secondary school and university. Many expatriate volunteers and missionaries have been a big part of developing the young men and women of this country, and create jobs in PNG.

Perhaps it is important to know that the foreigners, especially missionaries, have given their lives to help develop PNG. Meanwhile, sharing their expertise and skills with locals.

Another group that came into the country following independence was skilled people and expert expatriates entering the country as contractors and entrepreneurs. They were highly educated and experienced people who saw opportunities. Their aim was business.

So, let me put in perspective how each group contributed insofar as providing services, employing and educating Papua New Guineans is concerned.  I think the idea is to give meaning to immigration (the movement of outsiders into Papua New Guinea) and the impact their skills and knowledge has had on people associated with them and creating PNG jobs.

1.       Missionaries – Good News, health and education

Spreading the stories in the Old and New Testaments were their main goal. But as missionaries entered remote places, there was a need to learn local languages. Learning local languages was (and is) challenging. Almost every other village has a distinct language. So missionaries either learn several languages at the same time or introduce new language – so, there was the need for education.

Apparently, infant mortality and death due to infections would have been high then, as it is now. Many denominations, in addition to their primary role of spreading the love of God, would have seen it as their other responsibility to provide needed health care.

Today, many Papua New Guineans have relied heavily on education and health services provided by missions of different denominations. Among the leading churches are the Catholic Church, Lutheran Church, Seventh Day Adventist, New Tribes Mission, United Church and Baptist Church. Their mission is to faithfully spread the word of God. In doing so, they will continue to provide the much-needed health, education and humanitarian services in places where government services are lacking.

2.       Colonial administration era – colonialism and agriculture

This group of people have long gone, their era only remains in the memory of many. But, remnants of that time can be seen from coffee plantations in the highlands to cocoa and copra plantations in the coastal areas.

One of the lessons we could learn was the heightened interest in agriculture. It is important to note that apart from many things going on, the colonial era was also a time when huge portions of land have been developed for agricultural purposes. A significant milestone in agriculture shift in the country, from subsistence gardening to crop for cash.

3.       Independence buzz – Educators, health Workers, planters and contractors

The mid-seventies the to late eighties had seen a wave of human resource and physical infrastructural development. Many Papua New Guineans went to universities. Others continued onto trade courses, secretarial studies, seminaries and other colleges. PNG’s human resource growth was, to some extent, at par with developments that had been happening at that time.

There were lots of foreign contractors in the resource sector, many involved with infrastructure development around the country. Some of them working in road constructions, partnering with the National Department of Works (NDoW). They cut roads into areas never accessible by road vehicles in the past. It was a real-time for both human resource and national development. 

One group of Papua New Guineans still remained the forgotten generation to this day. Many of them have settled in new places. These were the volunteers from the Highlands and Sepik provinces who were enlisted for oil palm developments in West New Britain. My grandpa, who had actually returned home, told me that they were taken to Kimbe and Bialla where they were then given three hectares of registered land to grow oil palm.

Enviously, that was also a time when Kina was strong against Dollar. You could buy Ox and Palm for just K1.00, or a carton of beer for K10, or a Wopa biscuit or packet of cigarette for just 20 toea! People were not paid a lot, but what they earned could buy them a lot more than today with some to save. It was a real buzz.

During that time, there was a pocket of expatriates, especially Australians who took PNG at heart. They were the ones who had (have) lived here calling PNG home. From missionaries to government officers, educators and health workers. They loved PNG. Many of their children and grandchildren are Papua New Guineans.

4.       Entrepreneurs – business and opportunities

The country's purse is never empty. Money from natural resources and minerals, especially gold and copper from developed mines like Panguna, OK Tedi, Pogera, Misima, Lihir and other mines in the country had replenished the purse every year. Tax revenue had increased as many people earned and spent.

So, eventually, many outsiders have seen the opportunities available in the country. There was this wave of temporary immigrants who came into PNG:  setting up law firms, technology companies, medical hospitals, logging companies, retail shops, hotels, etc.

Many of them can speak fluent Tok Pisin. They mingle easily with the people. They also call PNG home. But, they came for business – one leg in, the other out. They set up business in PNG but resided overseas. They were very successful and well known in their own rights. They contributed massively to developing PNG and creating PNG jobs.

5.       Opportunity Seekers – recent entry

This group of immigrants came recently when the country saw unprecedented growth in the economy. Money circulating within the country was a pull factor for many other outsiders to make quick bucks. The frenzy of infrastructure development happening since 2013 and oil and gas developments had added fuel to fire. For example, with Chinese companies winning big contracts, they brought in Chinese workers who took up the opportunities otherwise would have been available to Papua New Guineans. Unlike Independence Buzz, this immigration wasn’t about development. It was purely business, self-enrichment and it happened quickly.  

Perhaps, this movement was more organised than the others. What happened was that well-established business preferred to use their own workforce. By this I mean these companies were employing their own kind, placing them in jobs that could be easily done by Papua New Guineans. Obviously, the 12-doors chain of stores in Lae and other parts of the country was a typical example, including the road and building construction companies in Lae and Moresby.

Another sub-set of this group was outsiders looking to Australia as their final destination. However, bureaucracy may not have allowed them to get in to Australia. Many possibly have families and friends living there. They remained in PNG and took-up jobs, some married to locals making PNG transit home. It could only be a matter of time before they would have the opportunity to make it to their Promised Land.

Here is where a line can be drawn: many outsiders have contributed, within their capacity, to imparting skills and knowledge to young Papua New Guineans. In turn, they are (were) making a living, bettering themselves and contributing to national development. On the contrary, it is clear that the more the other immigrants concentrate their businesses within themselves, the less there are training and jobs for ordinary Papua New Guineans.

Lae Unitech Habitat Big Crocodile Called Agro

This little corner of UNITECH in Lae is a nice place for both children and adults to enjoy. It is such a lovely place to take school children for excursions or day trips. Regardless of the state, the facility is in, the animals are in an amazing condition.




Lae UNITECH’s Habitat Large Crocodile 

In comparison to the two parks in Port Moresby (the Adventure Park and Nature Park), UNITECH’s Habitat is small in size. But, it boasts a variety of animal species and is unique in its own right. 

'Agro' the giant crocodile is a sight to be reckoned with. He is, I guess, the biggest crocodile in captive in PNG compared to the ones at Port Moresby’s Adventure Park. Another highlight is the variety of birds you can see at the Habitat. Kokies (the cockatoos) can actually talk to you. If you do not believe me, there is only one way to find out – go there and see them!


Lae Unitech Habitat Needs Renovation 

Having visited the Habitat, almost every year, I am saddened to have released that the facility has been left to rot away. There is little or no maintenance done to it, let alone make improvements. I do understand that the Habitat sucks up a lot of money compared to UNITECH’s other facilities like the Butterfly Farm at Bulolo.

However, the Habitat has come to a stage where immediate attention is required to give it a facelift. It is about time for business houses and sponsors to step in and help. In fact, what sponsors have done at the Port Moresby Nature Park in reassuring. 



Several years go the Nature Park was in a similar condition as that UNITECH Habitat: rotting boardwalks, unmaintained footpaths and nettings, disgusting toilets, unsecured, limited marketing, etc.


Today, the Nature Park next to the University of Papua New Guinea is a world-class facility to be enjoyed by everyone. I only wish that the University of Technology Habitat in Lae is given the treatment it needs, too. 

 Fun places to visit in Port Moresby 

  • Port Moresby Adventure Park
  • Sunset Lodge
  • Loloata Island Resort
  • Koitaki Country Club
  • Varirata Natioanl Park
  • Kokoda Track Memorial
  • Bomana War Cemetry
  • Tutu Beach


About PNG Insight

PNG Insight is an education blog. It aims to highlight the key developments in the education sector in Papua New Guinea. Started in 2014 on Google's blogger (now self-hosted on WordPress), PNG Insight strives to be a platform for critical thinking and discussions; and a source of information.

Leave a comment and let us know about your visit. 


Candidate Profile: How to write a good candidate profile - structure and detail is what you need

Are you an intending candidate or wanting to write a candidate profile for someone? Like any formal document, you need to get two vital components right: structure and detail.

Executive summary is, possibly, an important part of candidate's
profile. Realistic achievements as well as visions must be included.

A profile is about a particular person’s experiences, achievements and visions. If you want to portray yourself (or someone) as a potential leader the balance between the two components is necessary. 

Structure in your profile is like ‘pathway’ down history lane. So make sure profile has clear correlations - able to lead the readers well.

At the same time, ensure that you point out the important experiences and achievements. That’s where detail comes in. Know what is important – what’s needed including and what’s irrelevant.

Example of structure
1. Cover letter
2. Introduction (of the candidate)
3. Executive summary (a brief of candidate’s experiences and achievements and how they tie-in with party’s policies)
4. Contact detail
5. Experience
6. Achievement/Qualification
7. Referees
8. Other useful information
9. Attachment (include photo evidences of your works in the village, qualification, etc…)

Candidate PROFILE CHECKLIST

Here are some factual information you needed in order to give detail to candidates' profiles:

1.      Personal detail Full Name (As it appears on the common roll), DOB as shown on the Birth Certificate, Place Birth, Age, Place of Origin, Clan Name, Tribe Name, LLG, District, Province, Marital Status, Spouse Name, Children’s Name(s):
2.      Tertiary Education:
3.      Secondary Education:
4.      High School Education:
5.      Primary Education:
6.      Your Specialised Field:
7.      Current Occupation:
8.      Your current Annual Salary:
9.      List down assets you own with their estimated value:
10.  How long were you in the district or province?
11.  Have you made your intentions know yet? If yes, how did you do it?
12.  What is the current total eligible voting population of your District?
13.  What is your estimated percentage of preferential 1 vote you will acquire?
14.  What is your base vote (P1) in terms of numbers against the total voting population?
15.  List down your main reason(s) why you want to contest?
16.  What would be your best personality that will be used in your campaign?
17.  How are you different from the current sitting MP and of the other intending candidates?
18.  What is the level of your understanding with the systems and processes of governance (Westminster System)? Fair, Good, Excellent?
19.  How many influential figures in the district are supporting you? Name at least 10 together with their villages.
20.  Are you popular in your area? What really made you a popular figure? List down your development goals to achieve after 5 years if elected.
21.  Have you done anything out of the ordinary to help your people in the village? If yes, please briefly state them.
22.  Please give us your reasons why you chose to contest under our party?
23.  How much money would you need from the party to support you in this election? 

More help available here. Get in touch