To upgrade a largely rural province to the status of an economically developed, self-sufficient economy requires the contribution of a great many people: men and women with training and experience in accounting, computer skills, industrial trades, teaching, business acumen and leadership.
Although a great number of Bougainvilleans have strong skills, many are dispersed across Papua New Guinea and elsewhere in the world.
Unfortunately, because of the years lost in the crisis, there is a considerable skills gap existing today, in the age groups who find themselves between the young students who again have places in school, and the older more experienced workers who are nearing retirement.
Some people refer to them as a “lost generation”, men and women dislodged from school by the crisis, missing out on primary or secondary education and now feeling too old to re-enter the school system, to catch up on the lost years of learning.
When the Panguna mine was first setting up around 1970, Bougainville was similarly lacking in developed job skills.
To remedy this situation, BCL developed PNG’s first large-scale training and job skilling program to fit the local population for employment at the mine and its associated industries.
The results were remarkable, as was the impact not only on Bougainville but also on the development of the emerging Papua New Guinea.