The COVID-19 crisis has had a significant impact on the labour markets in Pacific Island Countries (PICs), including Solomon Islands, bringing disproportionate levels of unemployment and underemployment across different groups of people, sectors and regions.

The ILO in partnership with the Government of Solomon Islands has completed a virtual seminar in Solomon Islands to support the design and formulation of the national employment policy (NEP) for inclusive structural transformation and environmental sustainability which took place from the 14 – 16 September 2021.

Director ILO Office for Pacific countries, Mr. Matin Karimli, in his opening remarks said ‘‘today is the beginning of a journey towards the development of a NEP in Solomon Islands. It is a clear commitment from the Government as well to expand job opportunities for all men and women in Solomon Islands, not just those with resources, but for all, urban and rural, encompassing all economic sectors including the vulnerable segment of the society such as youth, women’’

The purpose of the 3 day seminar was to help constituents and other state administration bodies to understand the requirements for the development and implementation of a high-quality gender-responsive policy based on relevant information and analysis for review and adoption by the respective key authorities in the countries. The seminar provided practical guidance for the formulation of employment policy framework structured by the current conditions related to COVID-19 crisis and national priorities. It included discussions related to strategic planning, consultation, coordination, preparation of policy options, implementation and monitoring.

The seminar’s priority focus was on measures to help Solomon Islands in their efforts to respond to the COVID-19 crisis towards job-rich recovery.

Permanent Secretary Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Labour and Immigration, Mr. Riley Mesepitu, said "To promote an inclusive, job-rich recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, Solomon Islands needs a bold and innovative employment-focused policy agenda. In this context, gender-responsive national employment policies will play an important role but will need to be adapted in terms of both existing policy frameworks and the formulation of new recovery strategies.”

For the NEP it is import in identifying employment policy priorities and transforming it into practice is a multifaceted process that require solid commitment and coordination from all actors involved. It requires extensive efforts to define recovery measures and employment resilience policies and map them instrumentally through national implementation mechanisms.

Decent Work & Employment Specialist, Mr. Kinan Albahnasi said “A key challenge for Solomon Islands in response to the crisis is to generate more and better employment opportunities while ensuring that no one was left behind.

"In order for this to happen, the NEP needs to pursue new pathways towards economic structural transformation with a focus on inclusive recovery and environmental protection.

"Looking today at job quality, quantity and access as they relate to sectoral labour demand and supply dynamics, the NEP is supposed to push for structural change, taking advantage of digitalization driven by the pandemic, facilitating the movement of workers and enterprises from hard-hit sectors to more productive and resilient ones."

In the longer term, Pacific Island countries should work toward safeguarding themselves against labour market vulnerabilities that were revealed during the crisis and addressing trends shaping the world of work, including climate change. This requires reorienting national employment policies towards promoting a more job-rich and resilient recovery.

Source: ILO Press Release