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APIA – MAY  31, 2022 : 4.40pm  (TALAMUA ONLINE) :  Several hotel owners voiced their concern over the loss of trained staff to the Seasonal Workers Scheme during a meeting of the Samoa Hotel Industry (SHA) and the Samoa Tourism Authority (STA) last week.

 
The hotels and accommodation operators complained that they invested in some of their staff by paying their training either at the National University of Samoa (NUS) or the Australia Pacific Training College (APTC).
 
However, the trained staff just took the opportunity the seasonal workers schemes offered. The Amanaki Hotel representative said that as long as the seasonal workers scheme continues, whoever they put to training will opt for the opportunities the scheme offers.
She said there is a desperate need for skilled staff especially with the borders opening soon, and calls on STA to invest in more training for the industry.
 
Interestingly, every time the issue of seasonal workers and hotel employees is raised, the operators look at Sinalei’s Tuatagaloa Joe Annadale who was present in his capacity as a resort operator.
 
Tuatagaloa is one of the very agents for the seasonal workers’ programme and has one of the most successful programs running for his district of Falealili.
 
Tuatagaloa was blunt when he made the comparison between a salary earned by a seasonal worker and a local hotel
employee.
 
“What the seasonal worker earns in 6 months, is the average earned by a local employee in four years, so how can
you deny someone that earns that much in such a short time,” said Tuatagaloa.
 
He said it is not easy to retain a staff member compared to the competition offered by the seasonal workers’ scheme, “and that is the reality.” Tuatagaloa also pointed out that the seasonal workers scheme has contributed much to the country’s economy.
 
The eligible age for the scheme is 21 and above, and Tuatagaloa believes there are opportunities to train the 18 to 21 years old to cater for other needs such as the ones raised in the meeting.
 
SHA President Tupa’i Sale’imoa Va’ai said members of the industry have different views but what needs to be done is to rebuild the capacity of the workers through training. Tupa’i said the industry needs to change their mindset to contextualize the skills to suit the restaurants, hotels and
environment.
 
He believes this will reduce the need to rely on overseas goods and the challenges experienced through the pandemic lockdowns and shipping delays. In the past, consultants were brought from overseas to conduct training and local staff were recognized with
certificates.
 
“What we had was, they brought in the overseas generic to cater for Samoa, but ours is different as we revolve around
our agricultural and fisheries products,” he said. Tupa’i is however grateful that most of the tourism and hospitality training are now conducted by the local experts.
 
Editor’s Note:
PACNEWS

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