AUSTRALIA has hailed the achievements of the Solomon Islands infrastructure sector, including 18 women currently being supported through a trail blazing training in construction and solar power.
At an end of year Infrastructure Industry event on Friday in Honiara, Australia’s Counsellor for Infrastructure Mr Craig Gillies said he was proud to see Australia’s partnership approach to both construction and private sector development bear fruit, saying it would lead to more infrastructure being locally built and maintained now and in the future.
“As a direct result of this year’s industry training led by Australia’s Solomon Islands Infrastructure Program, more women, more graduates and more people with disabilities are being employed in construction, and more local companies are winning work. This is a great news story for local jobs, local families and local communities.”
The event brought together 24 infrastructure suppliers and contractors attending SIIP’s Workforce Skills Series, and 18 women undertaking Australia’s Green Construction Training Program, which includes a Certificate 2 in Construction course with Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) and intensive one month course in solar PV design, construction and maintenance with Solomon Islands National University
Mr Gillies said that through the Solomon Islands Infrastructure Program and APTC partnership, Australia was not only supporting over 100 infrastructure developments across the country, but lifting the capacity of local companies to deliver and maintain high quality infrastructure assets well into the future.
“This means more jobs, and better skills and know-how to maintain nation-building infrastructure – from markets, to wharves, airfields and health centres.”
Over 100 companies have attended the Workforce trainings this year, covering contract administration, tendering, local content plans, gender, disability and social inclusion, and safety and environmental laws.
Head of RSF Constructions, Ms Mele Noda, said that the training had resulted in them winning larger contracts, including the construction of Australia’s biomedical lab at Lata Provincial Hospital.
“Understanding the need to be more inclusive of women in our staff profile, and implementing improved worksafe practices, means we can now meet the standards of overseas tenders. Our business has grown from 3 to 30 people as a result.”
Speaking on behalf of the 18 women enrolled in Australia’s Green Construction Training Program, Class Captain Daisy Roddy said she was impressed that Australia was supporting the development of women in the construction sector.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for gender equality and women empowerment,” she said.
“Women should be encouraged to become plumbers, electricians, carpenters and other male-dominated jobs. It promotes diversity in construction which brings new ideas and problem-solving into the workplace, and helps reduce female youth unemployment.”
Mr Gillies announced that Australia would be supporting a second cohort of women next year to undertake the Green Construction Program.
“We’ve been really pleased with the practical impact that both training programs are having on Solomon Islands companies.”
“Ultimately, what’s most important about better trained and qualified construction workers is safer worksites for the general public and workers, and better quality infrastructure,” Mr Gillies said.
“This ensures we’re building and handing over infrastructure that is safe, well-built and inclusive of the people who use it. Why is that important? Because everyone deserves the opportunity to provide for their family and help drive Solomon Islands economic development.”