The Fiji Bureau of Statistics (FBOS) has released the preliminary findings of the 2015-2016 Employment and Unemployment Survey that show Fiji’s unemployment rate declined to 5.5 per cent in 2015-2016, down from 7.1 per cent in 2010-2011. The 2015-2016 rate of unemployment is the lowest on record in Fiji over the last 15 years.

Attorney-General and Minister for Economy pointed to the drop in unemployment as clear evidence that the record growth achieved by the Fijian economy was inclusive, and that ordinary Fijians were feeling the full benefits of Fiji’s economic development.

"The strong economic management and consistent policies we’ve introduced, along with our targeted investment in infrastructure and service delivery, have already brought us eight straight years of economic growth. Now we’ve seen that growth has translated directly into more jobs and new investment opportunities for the Fijian people, as we mark the lowest of rate of unemployment in Fiji in the last 15 years,” he said.

The Attorney-General went on to describe the decline in unemployment as a major milestone in Government’s strategic plan for Fiji’s national development over the long-term.

“This Government has stayed true, not only to its vision to transform Fiji into a modern and dynamic economy, but to its promise to involve as many of our people as possible in our national development. In the years to come, we will continue to bring opportunity – including jobs – into the lives of our people and keep Fiji moving forward on the path of progress,” he said.

The FBOS Survey also showed that the number of employers in Fiji in 2015-2016 increased by 37 per cent from 2010-2011. The Attorney-General welcomed this figure as a major victory for Government’s pro-growth policies that have supported private sector activity in the Fijian economy.

“The Fijian economy requires strategic engagement from Government and the private sector to function at a high level. Government has fostered an environment in Fiji that has brought in investment and given ordinary people a better shot at finding meaningful employment and business opportunities. That gives more people more opportunity to better their lives and the lives of those around them – and that makes us a stronger and more prosperous nation,” he said.

The FBOS survey also reported on school participation, and showed a decrease of 9.1 per cent in Fijians that had left school in 2015-2016 compared to 2010-2011. The percentage of dropouts that had left the education system due to financial constraints had also dramatically dropped from 31.9 per cent in 2010-2011 to 4.8 per cent in 2015-2016.

The Attorney-General said the remarkable increase in school participation was a direct result of the massive investments made by Government to expand access to high quality education throughout Fiji.

The survey also reported that youth unemployment stood at 18 per cent in 2015-2016. The Attorney-General said that there was no benchmark year for comparison in youth unemployment, and noted that some refinement in the survey process was necessary to better screen for youth that were actually seeking employment rather than being enrolled in higher education institutions. He also emphasised access to education and support programmes as the key drivers of the Fijian Government’s strategy to assist young people to secure jobs and pursue high-paying careers.

“We are blessed with incredibly talented young people in Fiji and we have specific policies in place that are putting forward creative solutions to harness the potential of our young people and better involve them in our economic development. Our Young Entrepreneurship Scheme is supporting young entrepreneurs with financing for innovative ideas and projects. Our Farmer Assistance Programme is assisting potential farmers with land and preparation costs to help young people get farms started. And we’ve dramatically increased funding support for scholarships for students in tertiary institutions - including our technical colleges - to give them the skills they need to find and create employment in a modern economy.