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Saturday, April 17, 2021

Pasifika embracing STEM opportunities

More Pasifika are embracing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) opportunities, paving a pathway to educational success, says Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio.

Now in its sixth year, the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) Toloa Programme is achieving its goal of helping Pacific Aotearoa to thrive.

“Our aim has always been to see Pacific communities in Aotearoa prosper, and encouraging more people into STEM-related study and jobs is a way to do this,” says Minister Sio.

“We want Pacific peoples fulfilling their potential in the belief everyone in Aotearoa has the opportunity to succeed and be able to provide for their families.”

He said STEM fields were the way of the future, and future employment sectors would require STEM skills.

In 2015, MPP established the Toloa Programme, which takes a multi-faceted approach of raising awareness and providing workforce development opportunities.

Every year, scholarships and funding are provided to individuals and groups at the Toloa Awards, which are being held in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch throughout March and April.

This year, MPP has awarded 59 Toloa Tertiary Scholarships to Pacific students to pursue studies in STEM and become the future innovators and leaders in this space.

“It is our highest number of scholarships given out for the programme since it began,” the Minister said.

“It not only encourages more students to take up STEM subjects, but it lifts the burden of having to find funds for tertiary fees, meaning students can focus entirely on their studies.”

This year, there are 34 recipients of the Community Fund and 14 Kenese Fund recipients.

In July last year, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and MPP signed a Memorandum of Understanding, agreeing to work together, to increase the number of Pacific people in the STEM workforce.

A total of $550,000 has been allocated to MPP from MBIE’s Research, Science, and Innovation: Talent and Science Promotion appropriation to support initiatives for Pacific people to transition into STEM employment.

“This support has been gratefully received and by working together with MBIE, we are moving closer to seeing more and more Pacific faces in jobs such as Engineering and Computer Programming. It is a fascinating time for the growing population of Pacific peoples in New Zealand, as we welcome the future and opportunities in STEM,” said Mr Sio.

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