‘Unprecedented’ need for foreign workers in Fiji

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Seasonal workers in Australia. Picture: SUPPLIED

Migrant workers will soon make up a significant portion of Fiji’s labour force, with the Department of Immigration now grappling with an “unprecedented” need for foreign workers to fill labour vacuums left by an exodus of Fijian workers to greener pastures.

In her presentation yesterday at TOPEX 2023, Director of Immigration Amelia Komaisavai said the need for foreign workers was now coming from all sectors of the economy.

“Based on current trend of migration into the country, migration due to employment is coming from all the sectors,” she said.

“Before, it was restricted to certain traditional sectors like tourism and construction but right now, the need for foreign workers or migration due to employment has gone across to all the sectors.”

Ms Komaisavai said the number of permits for foreign workers had trippled.

“So when you’re talking about skilling or talking about upskilling, think about whether you would need foreign workers in the future. You will need them because migrant workers will soon make up a very significant proportion of the labour force market in Fiji. That is where we’re going.”

She said at the same time, the demand for Fijians going out is high.

“We face an unprecedented time of passport enrolment currently. We’re enrolling 6000 to 7000 passports a month so that’s just an indication of mobility of people that are draining out of the country.”

Permanent secretary for Ministry of Finance Shiri Krishna said more than 50,000 Fijians migrated in the last 18 months alone, underscoring the need to manage labour migration before it chokes the economy.

“If you look at since 2022 to last year, we have lost over 50,000 people. This is from migration and of course people going for employment purposes and also those that are going from student visas.

“We did these numbers and 50,000 people left in the last 18, months as of October. That’s a massive number and if the momentum continues, it has the possibility to choke the economy.”

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