Through its Skills Development Fund, Tonga Skills supports local training providers to deliver training in ways that are flexible, inclusive and demand driven. This approach aims to increase the informal training system’s reach so that people from the outer islands have equal access to quality skills training.

In Tonga’s coastal areas, boat owners’ livelihoods depend greatly on their boats as a means of transportation, fishing for food and as a business. Recognising this, Tonga Skills partnered with the Ministry of Fisheries to deliver training in outboard motor maintenance and repair for boat owners in the islands of Vava’u, ‘Eua and Ha’apai.

“The training is for boat owners living in the outer islands so they can fix their outboard motors when little things go wrong,” says Mr. Fonuakite Fanua. “Waiting for a mechanic to travel from the mainland may take a very long time.”

The training equips boat owners with skills in outboard motor maintenance and repair, familiarising participants with the parts of their boat motor, the ability to identify problems and know how to fix them.

Training has now been delivered in the three islands, where a trainer worked with boat owners to dismantle their outboard motors and demonstrate troubleshooting skills. This method of training has shown positive outcomes.

In January 2020, 20 boat owners in Ha’apai participated in the training. Tonga Skills interviewed 14 of the graduates in May 2020 and found that since completing the training, each participant has used their new skills to maintain outboard motors. They have also been able to help share their skills with others in their community.

A total of 87 participants have now completed the training. In Vava’u, the trainees included five women and two people with a disability.

Ha’apai: Taufa Havili has been a seafarer for seven years and holds a Class 6 Master Engineer certificate from the Tonga Maritime Polytechnic Institute. Taufa is a skipper for the local Sea Change  Eco Resort on Uoleva Island and takes out whale tour guests during the whale season. The outboard motor maintenance and repair training taught him practical skills to fix motor problems when out at sea.

Taufa said, “My employers were impressed when they saw my certificate from the outboard motor maintenance and repair training. They doubled my salary and extended my contract to include regular maintenance of the resort boat. This means the resort doesn’t have to fly in a mechanic from the mainland for repair services.”

He adds, “I can now perform minor repairs to the boat when something goes wrong during the journey. These new skills help me to feel like a valuable member of the family, at work and in community.”

Vava’u: Semisi Tauheluhelu of ‘Utulei is a man of many talents. He is a primary school teacher, a fisherman, a farmer and a very active member of the community. He also lost his leg through an accident some years ago. Semisi participated in the outboard motor maintenance and repair training in 2018. Semisi can now repair his boat when he is out at sea gathering fish for his family’s consumption or to be sold at the market.

‘Afasa Loni learning to dismantle and repair an outboard motor in ‘Eua, 2020

‘Eua: ‘Afasa Loni operates a whale tour and fishing business. The skills he gained during the training enable him to maintain and repair his boat without having to call for a mechanic from Tongatapu. ‘Afasa is one of the recently registered business clients for business coaching through Tonga Skills.

Semisi Tauheluhelu of ‘Utulei, Vava’u who participated in the Outboard Motor Maintenance and Repair training.