Which industries are going to create the jobs of the future in Bougainville?
This is a question that will be increasingly asked during this post-referendum period as policymakers consider a road map for economic growth.
As it stands the government has identified key industries that it believes will help create new opportunities and lead to greater levels of economic self-reliance.
These primary industries include mineral development, agriculture, and fisheries as well as tourism and hospitality and construction.
The development of key industries would also create new opportunities for a support system of various other goods and services, including financial and other professional services, transport, accommodation, healthcare, cleaning, security, and maintenance to name a few.
Core industries whether they be mining or agriculture by their nature could support thousands of new jobs in Bougainville in the years and decades ahead. By way of example, a recent study into the prospect of redeveloping the Panguna mine concludes that around 2,500 new jobs would be directly created, with a local workforce trained in time for the commencement of operations.
New jobs would be created across operational, technical and administrative roles and indirectly, many others would be needed to provide goods and services to support the operations with an education and training strategy to be developed.
When the Panguna mine was last in operation, around 83 percent of the entire workforce were PNG nationals, with around 35 percent Bougainvillean. A mine training college, considered the best equipped in PNG, was established by Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) to educate and train local workers.
In total, the company trained about 12,000 employees which included about 1,000 completing full trade apprenticeships and some 400 completing graduate and post-graduate studies.
Today, BCL is a locally-based and predominantly locally owned company that is firmly committed to creating new employment opportunities for Bougainvilleans. This is reflected among its current staff and the company would be required to scale up significantly if it was to partner in the redevelopment of Panguna. When the mine last operated employees also enjoyed wages and conditions well above the national standard.
The development of Bougainville’s key industries will help ensure the jobs of the future will be there for those who want them and this is especially important for young people looking ahead at their career options.