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Tonga Embarks on Development of First National Employment Policy with ILO Support

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Tonga is making significant strides in shaping its employment future with the development of its inaugural National Employment Policy, supported by the International Labour Organization (ILO). The policy formulation process advanced following a constructive two-day workshop aimed at enhancing the policy development capacities of stakeholders in the Pacific nation.

The workshop, convened in Nuku’alofa on 8-9 May 2024, brought together a diverse group of approximately 40 representatives from governmental entities, trade unions, labor and employer organizations, civil society, and academic institutions. Participants engaged in discussions and exercises focused on crafting a robust policy framework and implementation strategy for Tonga’s unique labor market.

Key topics addressed during the workshop included the effective utilization of labor market data for informed decision-making, strategies to promote skills training, workplace rights, and fair wages. Additionally, considerations were made for supporting marginalized groups and exploring global and regional best practices in employment policy development.

At the workshop’s opening session, Kolotia Fotu, Deputy CEO at the Labour Division of the Ministry of Trade and Economic Development, highlighted the collaborative nature of the initiative, emphasizing the need for a tailored policy to drive inclusive economic diversification and enhance resilience in Tonga. Christian Viegelahn, ILO Employment Specialist, underscored the importance of the employment policy as a tool to generate quality job opportunities and fortify the resilience of Tonga’s workforce and businesses in the face of crises.

As Tonga, along with other Pacific Island Countries, continues to navigate economic challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters, the development of a National Employment Policy is seen as a crucial step towards sustainable growth and development. The ILO’s partnership with the Government of Tonga, supported by the Joint SDG Fund, aims to advance objectives related to economic diversification, digital transformation, and resilience-building in the region.

Rachel Adams

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