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Assistant Minister for Youth and Sports


Cuvu FSC Grounds, Sigatoka on Friday 19 May 2017 at 7pm

Organisers of the College Night;
Invited Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Bula Vinaka, Namaste and a good evening to you all.

I thank the organisers for the invitation to be part of this event and also for the warm reception accorded to me this evening. It always feels good to be home as this is where I grew up as a student.

I often recollect good memories of the days I spent at Cuvu College each time I go past the school. I can remember my teachers and school mates and count myself lucky to have attended Cuvu; it provided me the environment which boosted my confidence, turning me into the person I am today. I will always be indebted to Cuvu College for that.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, in partnership with the Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation and its Young Entrepreneurs Council, will host the inaugural National Youth Entrepreneurship Awards on 8 June 2017.
The Awards reflects an exciting initiative and the Ministry’s commitment to encourage and reward entrepreneurship among youths in Fiji; young men and women who display creative use of their resources and innovative management skills in a business venture in order to make a profit and a living. As importantly is the opportunity to employ other youth in the venture as we will always be stronger together. The Awards recognise aspiring young entrepreneurs and promote the wide range of entrepreneurship opportunities available for young Fijians with wide-ranging support from Government Ministries and other organisations.

Youth unemployment is one of today’s big global challenges, Fiji included. The World Bank estimates we need 600 million new jobs in the next 10 years and according to the International Labour Organization, 73.3 million of the world’s unemployed are young people (about 36%). In Fiji alone, more than 40,000 are registered with the National Employment Centre as job seekers. Close to 3,000 of this number are graduates with degrees from Fiji’s three major tertiary institutions.

Youth entrepreneurship offers innovative solutions for economic growth among young people. Entrepreneurship is a powerful tool to help fight youth unemployment. My Ministry, through its programs and assistance, is committed to provide skills training to encourage youths to seize available opportunities afforded to them by Government and other youth development stakeholders. We believe that if we maximise opportunities available by targeting the youth, they can become effective contributors of economic growth and help eliminate unemployment. This requires the youth to make a similar commitment to undergo training and apply the skills in the work environment. It requires a focus on doing things right to ensure increased productivity. It means that the community should support the young people in their enterprise and pay for the services received. We all need to put our shoulder to the wheel to make things happen for our collective good.

Recently, the Minister and Ministry officials handed over Government assistance to individuals and youth clubs so they can lead a sustainable livelihood. Some of this assistance helps boost entrepreneurial activities amongst youths and youth clubs; to give the youth that helping hand they often require.

We know the roles our families and communities play in supporting us including to start and grow a business. It is one of the most influential factors in our ability to make progress, especially for rural youth. I hope that we will support youth entrepreneurship grow and thrive in our communities.

We need to recognise that farming and agriculture is a profession. It requires knowledge of what to plant in different areas, how to irrigate, to harvest and what to do to rotate crops. We need to recognise fishing as a profession as it generates income and requires knowledge of how to use a boat, where to fish for what species and how to prepare for sale.

Many young people, especially in developing economies like ours, turn to entrepreneurship because of lack of job opportunities. Youths and youth clubs interested in entrepreneurship can talk to us; we can ensure you get access to experts in Finance and Business Management for assistance and awareness of entrepreneurial roles and skills.

We need to create entrepreneurs. Some of you gathered here tonight may not be in formal employment. You can grab the opportunity to become your own bosses and create a secure future for yourself and your family – and eventually your friends and employees.

Earlier today, the Minister for Youth and Sports, Hon. Laisenia Tuitubou, was in Koronisagana village to close a Hospitality and Tourism training held for youths there. Tourism thrives in Nadroga. Without formal employment, youths can maximise their creative abilities and engage in entrepreneurial activities to meet the needs of tourists and hotels.

While entrepreneurship is associated with innovation, seeing where a gap exists in the market as well as some risk taking, the Ministry and Government is here to support you. It is in your interest to become a productive member of our economy and it is in Fiji’s interest to get more people into employment. This is a strategy used to impact young people, particularly those who are hard to reach, those who face disadvantages every day and at-risk youth. I want to leave you with this challenge tonight: start an entrepreneurial activity or support one. We need to create more and better opportunities for our young people. We need to contribute to the growth of our economy.

I wish the ex-scholars association well and thank you for your ongoing commitment to support the school. I wish the night’s program all success and also acknowledge the current administration, teachers and students of Cuvu College for your efforts in moulding the future of our nation.

Vinaka vakalevu. Dhanyavaad. Shokran. Thank you.