Feb 27, 2021 Last Updated 4:38 AM, Feb 26, 2021

“It is people, their skills and abilities who will rebuild our economy post COVID-19,” Fiji’s Minster for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Mereseini Vuniwaqa told attendees at the launch of a Fashion Incubation Centre in Suva recently.

The Centre is a joint initiative of the Fiji National University (FNU) and the Australian Pacific Training Coalition (APTC), and the product of consultations held with Fiji’s fashion industry in 2019.  These discussions aimed to identify and explore ways to address the production needs of local designers and fashion graduates of FNU and APTC.  

Minister Vuniwaqa said the Centre would provide an ‘enabling environment’ for aspiring designers to unleash their full potential. 

The FNU’s Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor, Tessa Price commended the partnership, stating that it would provide integrated short courses in various areas.

“The programmes designed for the Centre will provide guidance, mentoring, technical skills, business support and mentoring for both local and regional designers,” said Price.

Also speaking at the launch, The Chair of Fiji Fashion Council, Andrew Powell stated that the Centre showcases the fresh talent Fiji has to offer in the fashion sector.

“I am confident that the Fashion Incubation Centre will play an important role in enhancing Fiji’s image as a great place to shop, and a great trendsetter in today’s global fashion market,” said Powell. 

All speakers at the event commended the timely launch of the Fashion Incubation Centre, especially during the current social and economic hardships induced by COVID-19. Minister Vuniwaqa underlined that the coming months and years will be challenging for Fiji’s economy and society.

She further added that Fijian Government’s recovery strategy is focused on getting ‘people back to work’ work during the post COVID-19, especially in skill-based, sustainable employment.

The Centre will provide production runs for small business entrepreneurs who typically make low- quantity orders and allow them to contribute towards Fiji’s economic recovery. 

Fiji National University is celebrating its 10th anniversary as a national university, but 150th anniversary as an education provider. Talking to Islands Business just before his recent departure, FNU Vice-Chancellor Professor Nigel Healey said one of the things that has pleased him most during his tenure was the sense of unity and community the university now has, having historically formed from disparate colleges.

FNU has about 1000 regional students, many of them studying medicine or in TVET (vocational) engineering courses. The largest numbers come from Solomon Islands and Samoa, but other countries are represented as well.

Professor Healey says FNU is distinguished from other unis through its strong vocational focus, and strong provision of sub-degree or TVET level qualifications.

“We really educate  people for careers for jobs…all the programs are very closely integrated with the employment market. So we design the courses in collaboration with employer groups and professional bodies and all of our courses have what we call workplace attachments.”

Fiji has three universities and more than 50 colleges. Is the market large enough to support them all?

To read more, get our April edition.

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