Eighty-four Solomon Islands students graduated from the Australia Pacific Technical College (APTC) on Friday at a special ceremony in Honiara.

The graduation ceremony was attended by Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Matt Anderson, APTC Chief Executive Officer Denise O'Brien and Permanent Secretary of Education, Dr Fred Isom Rohorua.

Mr Anderson said students completed courses at Australian Government funded APTC in Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu or Papua New Guinea campuses and it was a happy occasion for students to share their achievement with family and friends.

"I know that to take advantage of the APTC training and the opportunity it now provides, students spent six months away from the Solomon Islands. I know how difficult it is to leave family and friends behind, but today's celebration is a reward for you all and the sacrifices were well worth it," Mr Anderson said.

"I know the APTC receives a very high number of applications from Solomon Islanders every year for APTC courses and there is much competition for places, so you first achievement was to be selected. Your second was to graduate. Congratulations and well done to you all."

Eighty four Solomon Islanders graduated from courses in tourism, engineering - mechanical trades of diesel fitting, fabrication and refrigeration and air-conditioning; painting and decorating, automotive mechanical technology; electro-technology systems; carpentry; children's services; hospitality; commercial cookery and patisserie and disability.

Mr Anderson said they join more than 330 Solomon Islanders who have already completed courses.

"Through the APTC and the Australian qualifications the students earned, they now have the skills, training and confidence to take advantage of job opportunities, either in Solomon Islands or in the region. I urge them to seize this opportunity and make full use of the skills gained through APTC."

The APTC was established in 2007 to increase skilled workers in the Pacific and improve employment opportunities for Pacific Islanders. There are currently four APTC campuses in Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.

Solomon Islands will soon host a campus of the Australia Pacific Technical College, further boosting opportunities for training and skills development for Solomon Islanders.

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Development, Planning and Aid Coordination, Jerry Manele and the High Commissioner signed a subsidiary arrangement this year to establish a APTC campus in Solomon Islands.

"Solomon Islanders will continue to have training opportunities at APTC campuses in the region, but we hope that the APTC campus in Honiara will provide even greater opportunities for local people and the chance to learn new skills and secure a job," Mr Anderson said.

Mr Anderson said the new APTC campus for Solomon Islands reinforces Australia's continued investment in training and skills development, which is one of the key areas of support under the Solomon Islands - Australia Partnership for Development.

Source: Press Release, Australian High Commission, Solomon Islands