Papua New Guinea: The future of the labour market

June 21, 2023

Businessman touching data analytics process system with KPI financial charts, dashboard of stock and marketing on virtual interface. With Papua New Guinea flag in background.

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The evolving labour market of Papua New Guinea: Global opportunities and skilled professionals

Papua New Guinea is known for its diverse population, unique geography, vibrant culture, and complex history. With a population of over 9.4 million, the country encompasses tropical rainforests, mountains, and coastal regions, presenting abundant work opportunities. The private sector dominates employment, while around 130,000 public servants provide services to citizens.

Port Moresby, the national capital, offers numerous business prospects. Established since independence in 1975, the city's employment law has been adjusted to meet modern standards. For example, gender and ethnicity-based discrimination is prohibited. The country also ensures fair employee compensation benefits, outlines public holidays and provides overtime pay.

Papua New Guinea's labour market is evolving with the impact of globalisation. Talent mapping and access services are excited about the country's potential, enabling global employers to hire skilled professionals from various sectors easily.

Papua New Guinea's business climate

Economic overview

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is an economy with significant potential. In terms of GDP, the country had a nominal GDP of approximately $31.82 billion as of 2022. The economy relies heavily on abundant natural resources, including minerals, oil, gas, forestry, and fisheries. Papua New Guinea is the largest economy in the Pacific Islands region.

Key industries and sectors


The extractive industries, including oil and gas and mining, play a crucial role in PNG's economy. The country is rich in mineral resources such as gold, copper, silver, and nickel. Major mining projects include the Ok Tedi copper mine and the Porgera and Lihir gold mines. The oil and gas sector contributes significantly to the economy, with projects like the PNG LNG (liquefied natural gas) project.


Agriculture is a vital sector in PNG, employing a significant portion of the population. The country has a diverse climate and fertile land. This supports the production of commodities such as coffee, cocoa, palm oil, tea, rubber, and various tropical fruits and vegetables. Subsistence farming is prevalent, but there is potential for increased commercial agriculture.


PNG's unique cultural heritage, biodiversity, and natural beauty make it an attractive tourist destination. The country offers opportunities for ecotourism, adventure tourism, cultural tourism, and diving tourism. Key attractions include the Kokoda Track, Sepik River, Tufi fjords, and pristine coral reefs. Potential recruiters and entrepreneurs can benefit from the opportunities presented by Papua New Guinea's tourism industry, such as infrastructure development and promotion, by capitalising on the untapped potential of this vibrant sector.


The services sector, including retail, finance, telecommunications, and transportation, contributes to PNG's economy. Port Moresby, the capital, is a regional hub for various services. Retail and wholesale trade are prominent, driven by urban centres. Telecommunications have seen significant growth, improving connectivity across the country.


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Benefits of skills development in Papua New Guinea

Tapping into a talented workforce

Papua New Guinea presents a remarkable opportunity for potential recruiters and entrepreneurs. By embracing skills development initiatives, recruiters can access a pool of highly skilled individuals across various sectors, fostering a capable and dynamic workforce.

An abundance of specialised technical skills

Setting up a business in Papua New Guinea means gaining access to individuals with specialised technical skills in engineering, information technology, construction, healthcare, and skilled trades. These skilled professionals can contribute their expertise to drive innovation, enhance operational efficiency, and ensure the success of businesses in these sectors.

Strong foundation in soft skills

Job seekers in Papua New Guinea possess a solid foundation in essential soft skills, including communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and adaptability. This translates to a workforce that can seamlessly integrate into diverse teams, effectively collaborate, and contribute to a positive work environment.

Versatility through transferable skills

Papua New Guinea offers a talent pool enriched with transferable skills such as critical thinking, creativity, and leadership. This versatility equips individuals to adapt to changing market demands, navigate evolving business landscapes, and embrace new opportunities. Entrepreneurs can leverage this adaptability to build agile, resilient teams that tackle challenges and drive growth.

Favourable recruitment environment

The ongoing efforts to enhance education and training systems in Papua New Guinea have created a favourable recruitment environment. With access to quality education, modern curricula, and well-equipped infrastructure, recruiters can confidently source and hire skilled professionals with the latest industry knowledge and competencies.

Retaining local talent and reducing turnover

By investing in career prospects, competitive remuneration, and improved working conditions, businesses can attract and retain local talent in Papua New Guinea. This not only ensures a stable and committed workforce but also minimises turnover rates, reducing recruitment costs and maintaining continuity in operations.

Innovation and technological advancements

Businesses established in Papua New Guinea can benefit from a culture of innovation and creativity fostered by skills development initiatives. The specialised technical skills and creative thinking nurtured within the local workforce can propel businesses towards technological advancements, enabling them to stay ahead of the curve and seize opportunities in emerging industries.

By capitalising on the potential of skills development in Papua New Guinea, recruiters and entrepreneurs can unlock various benefits. Access to a highly skilled workforce enriched with technical expertise, soft skills, and transferable skills enables businesses to thrive, innovate, and succeed in the dynamic market of Papua New Guinea.


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Fostering collaboration for skills development

Collaborative efforts between countries, recruiters, and the local government in Papua New Guinea can enhance skills development and positively impact the workforce and economy.

Boost productivity through targeted training

Countries can partner with recruiters and the local government to bridge the skills gap by investing in comprehensive training programs. Equipping employees with the necessary skills to perform their tasks efficiently will elevate productivity, fostering business growth and enhancing overall economic development.

Create a supportive environment for talent retention

Recruiters, in collaboration with the local government, can focus on creating an environment that nurtures talent and provides opportunities for career growth. By offering attractive career prospects, competitive remuneration, and favourable working conditions, businesses can retain skilled employees, reducing turnover rates and ensuring continuity in operations.

Cultivate a culture of innovation

Countries can work hand in hand with recruiters and the local government to foster a culture of innovation in Papua New Guinea. This involves investing in specialised technical skills and encouraging creativity among the workforce. By providing access to resources and promoting collaboration, the country can overcome barriers to innovation, embrace emerging technologies, and diversify its economy, enhancing competitiveness on a global scale.

Foster sustainable development through collaborative efforts

With a shared understanding of the significance of developing a highly skilled workforce, countries, recruiters, and the local government in Papua New Guinea can come together to create a strategic and comprehensive approach. This involves enhancing education and training systems, ensuring widespread access to high-quality programs, and aligning policies with the evolving needs of industries. By collectively investing in these initiatives, Papua New Guinea can attract increased investment, cultivate a workforce with in-demand skills, and lay a solid foundation for long-term sustainability.

Through collaboration and a positive focus on skills development, countries, recruiters, and the local government can unlock the full potential of Papua New Guinea's workforce. Working together can enhance productivity, retain talent, foster innovation, and propel the country towards a prosperous and competitive future.

Unlocking the potential of Papua New Guinea's workforce is essential for driving competitiveness, employability and prosperity.

By focusing on strategic solutions, Papua New Guinea can strengthen its economic growth and attract valuable investments that pave the way for a sustainable future.

Here are some of the ways it can invest in its future:

Investing in education and training excellence

Elevating Quality

Papua New Guinea is committed to enhancing the quality of education and training programs by upgrading facilities, providing professional development for teachers and trainers, and ensuring curriculum alignment with industry needs. This ensures that students receive a world-class education that equips them with the skills required in a rapidly evolving job market.

Enriching practicality and applicability

Papua New Guinea is strengthening vocational and technical training institutions to cater to the needs of high-growth sectors. Individuals gain industry-specific expertise that aligns with market demands by providing specialised skills training in the construction, manufacturing, tourism, and ICT sectors. Additionally, educational programs emphasise the importance of engineering and technology education, entrepreneurship, and soft skills development.

Increasing access and inclusivity

Expanding opportunities

Papua New Guinea is committed to expanding access to education and training opportunities, ensuring that individuals from rural and remote areas have equal access to high-quality education. This inclusive approach creates a more equitable system, empowering individuals from all backgrounds to contribute to the country's growth.

Industry-specific training programs

Papua New Guinea designs and delivers industry-specific training programs through collaborative partnerships between employers, industry associations, and training providers. These programs focus on practical skills and hands-on experiences that align with job requirements, ensuring job seekers are well-prepared for employment in their chosen fields.

Encouraging Employer Engagement in Workforce Development

Private sector-led training

Promoting private sector-led initiatives like on-the-job training, internships, apprenticeships, and mentorship programs encourages real-world skill acquisition and fosters collaboration between employers and educational institutions. This approach allows individuals to gain valuable experience while developing relevant skills that meet the needs of employers.

Industry-led skills assessments

By encouraging employers to assess and certify job applicants' skills, Papua New Guinea ensures a better match between job requirements and candidate capabilities. This enhances hiring and establishes a workforce with the necessary competencies for success.


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Implementing Policies to Attract and Retain Skilled Workers

Incentivising skilled workers

Papua New Guinea offers attractive incentives to skilled workers, such as tax breaks, visa waivers, and flexible working arrangements. These incentives attract talented individuals to stay or return to the country, contributing their expertise to local industries.

Strengthening migration policies

By developing robust migration policies, Papua New Guinea aims to recruit skilled professionals from abroad. Simultaneously, pathways are created to integrate them seamlessly into the local workforce. Fair employment practices and protection for local workers are ensured, fostering an environment of collaboration and growth.

Papua New Guinea is building a comprehensive and sustainable approach to empowering its workforce through collaborative efforts among government entities, educational institutions, employers, industry associations, and other stakeholders. By embracing these positive strategies, the country sets a path toward a prosperous future where individuals thrive, businesses succeed, and the nation prospers.

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This post was written by: Diyaa Mani, Content Marketing Coordinator