Tonga Quality Apprenticeship Pilot Program

Tonga Quality Apprenticeship Pilot Program

In response to the challenges of youth employment in Tonga particularly the increasing shortage of qualified staff across a range of medium-skilled to high-skilled professions, the Department of Labour, under the Ministry of Trade and Economic Development is piloting this quality apprenticeship scheme in the cooking occupation.

The intervention aims to

1. strengthen social dialogue between employers, government and training institutions ultimately improving the quality of education and training.
2. gathering critical evidence on what could work and what would not work for an apprenticeship system in Tonga and
3. lay the foundations for a quality apprenticeship system that has the potential to expand into other occupations and sectors.

The pilot apprenticeship program will target certificate 3 and certificate 4 level graduates placing current students into employment at an industry business for the entire duration of the last year of their training. The apprentices will work full-time for three days and receive 2 days of training a week.

The scheme runs from March to December 2024 and faciliated by the following partners:

The Ministry of Trade and Economic Development, specifically the Department of Labour is the ultimate custodian of the pilot programme and provides oversight and guidance to its partners.

The Tonga Chamber of Commerce and Industries (TCCI) will take the lead in rallying employers in the hospitality and tourism sector around the concept of apprenticeship TCCI ensures that employers participating are closely involved in the design of the pilot scheme. TCCI also monitors employers’ satisfaction with the pilot apprenticeship scheme.

Ahopanilolo Technical Institute (ATI), currently the country’s only training provider in cookeries will train students currently enrolled in their courses at cert 3 and cert 4 level for two days a week during the entire duration of their work placement. ATI will also engage a focal point for learning who will supervise the relationships between apprentices and employers, ensure that apprentices learning is on track and that the principles of decent work are adhered to.

The International Labour Organizations is the United Nations System’s Technical Agency for the World of Work. The ILO provides technical and financial support to the pilot program’s main implementing partners based on the ILO Recommendation No#208 which was recently adopted by its member states at the International Labour Conference (ILC) 2023.

Pacific Green Entrepreneurs Network

PGEN Program

The regional Pacific Green Entrepreneurs Network (PGEN) is a 3-year project implemented by the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) and funded by the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD). The Network will offer annual “Pacific Greenpreneurs” incubation and accelerator programs targeted at green and sustainable businesses whose business models include solutions aimed at contributing to their country’s climate and sustainable development goals in 6 Pacific Island countries – Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu via localized virtual and physical workshops and builds on GGGI’s recent international and regional ‘Greenpreneurs’ incubator work.

Successful entrepreneurs from the incubator program will be offered the opportunity to apply for grant seed funds of up to USD 5,000, while qualifying accelerator participants will be provided with zero-interest growth financing of up to USD 50,000. The program will prioritize women entrepreneurs and green jobs for women and youth and aims to facilitate the creation of 3,130 green jobs, impacting the lives of over 12,000 Pacific Islanders.

Private Sector Readiness Program

PSRP Program

A Private Sector Readiness Programme (PSRP) was initiated by the Tonga Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TCCI) in close cooperation with the Department of Climate Change – Tonga’s Green Climate Fund (GCF) National Designated Authority (NDA) supporting office – under MEIDECC.  Also, in collaboration with Tonga Development Bank, who are in the process of becoming an Accredited Entity for the GCF.  The programme will encourage Tonga’s Private Sector to integrate climate change into their current working and into the future.  Private Sector are everyday set ups in Tonga, from private businesses, non – government organizations, farmers and village or town groups. Tonga’s most vulnerable groups are also a focus such as women and girls, the elderly and people living with disabilities.

The Project Management Unit (PMU) that comprises of five staff has been established to strengthen Private Sector engagement in climate actions. The PMU officially commenced its operation on the 9th of August 2021 and will implement its activities within a duration of two years.

The Private Sector Readiness Programme entitled Enabling Private Sector Access to Climate Finance to Strengthen Climate Resilience Development in Tonga is funded under the Green Climate Fund’s (GCF) Readiness and Preparatory Support Programme.

The established team supports the private sector with developing solid proposals for accessing funds for combating climate issues catering for all Tongans including outer islands. The Project is well aligned with the government’s strategic objectives as stipulated in the Tonga Strategic Development Framework (TSDF) and will build on previous readiness interventions that supported the government’s engagement and the implementation of Tonga’s Programme with the GCF. This project is focused on growing capacity and the ability of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to not only survive but thrive in the face of climate change.

The project works to achieve three main objectives:
1. Strengthening private sector engagement with the GCF through knowledge and capacity building
2. Crowding-in private sector investment for climate actions, and
3. Building the capacity within the private sector to develop GCF concept notes/funding proposals.

Business Link Pacific

BLP Program

Business Link Pacific (BLP) connects small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) with local quality advisory services to help them grow.

BLP is a private sector development program funded by the NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade and delivered by DT Global in partnership with the Samoa Chamber of Commerce as the in-country representative (also established in Fiji, PNG, Solomon Islands, and the Cook Islands).

BLP develops local business service provider partners to provide B2B support and meet SME needs for advisory services. Businesses use these services to grow efficiently, improve their turnover and promote job creation. Eligible businesses can further access financial subsidies on quality services made affordable to help transform their business. Businesses are encouraged to visit the BLP Portal and utilize the business toolkit that is equipped with free tools such as the Business Health Check and other resources to help support business growth.

The local network of service providers covers a wide range of business development areas including business strategic planning, financial management, business accounting services, marketing strategy, advertising and promotion, website development, digital marketing and solutions, and more. New business advisors servicing SMEs are encouraged to register on the BLP Portal, complete the competency assessment to become an approved advisor and access resources including subsidies for services and professional development for your staff.

For more information, please contact the local Program Manager, Siosifa Pomana on direct email: or 25168.