The Solomon Islands Government has granted license to a first local recruitment agent for the New Zealand Seasonal Labour Employment scheme, Monday last week.

Local agent, Casper Ludae of L.C Agency officially received his license from Heinz Vaekesa, National Coordinator of the Labour Mobility Scheme at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade Office.

"This is a very important event," said Mr Vaekesa. "It symbolizes the great progress we have made in improving cooperation between the governments of New Zealand and Solomon Islands and the private sector".

"Now that we are regulating recruitment agents properly, New Zealand employers can have great confidence in coming to Solomon Islands to find workers."

The RSE scheme was established in early 2007, permitting unskilled workers from Pacific islands, including Solomon Islands, to work for up to seven months of each year handling fruit.

Although Solomon Islands was not amongst the five 'Kick-Start States' which received extra support from the New Zealand government when the scheme was first set up, the New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark, announced that Solomon Islands would be added to the list in August.

Since then, New Zealand officials have visited Honiara to discuss how the two governments can better collaborate.

The Labour Mobility Oversight Committee decided to certify recruitment agents after a strict vetting process.

After signing a legal contract agreeing to comply with government rules, Mr Vaekesa handed Mr Ludae his official certificate at the offices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade.

Mr Ludae has travelled to New Zealand twice to work under the RSE scheme with New Zealand companies Mr Apple and Seeka Wilcox and Sons, and is familiar with the way the scheme operates.

"We have every confidence in Mr Ludae," Mr Vaekesa said. "He clearly understands exactly what employers' need, and has their trust."

Anybody wishing to apply for certification to recruit under the RSE scheme should contact Barrett Salato at the Department of External Trade, on 21250.

"We are willing to issue certificates to anybody that can demonstrate that they meet the stringent criteria laid down by the Oversight Committee," Mr Salato explained. "However, we've found that the biggest problem for most agents is in finding an RSE employer to work with."

Source: Government Communications Unit (GCU)