Life Changing Opportunities for Samoan Youth

Mar 31, 2017

Abe Faletagoai, a graduate of the Culinary Training Programme, provided by Samoa Culinary Association through the support of Samoa One-UN Youth Employment Programme. Photo credit: UNDP/N.Vaa/2017.

Abe Faletagoai was following his father’s footsteps as a carpenter when he realised that he wanted to try his hand at something different. As he had always enjoyed cooking for his family, he jumped at the opportunity to further improve his cooking skills when he saw a TV advertisement inviting youths to apply for a Culinary Training Programme. 

An intensive 12-week culinary training programme by the Samoa Culinary Association, with support from the Samoa One-UN Youth Employment Programme (YEP), changed Abe’s life. Even prior to the completion of his training, Abe received several job offers from the various hotels and restaurants that he trained in, and where had the chance to show off his newfound and enriched cooking techniques. Abe was also awarded a scholarship to the Australia-Pacific Technical College (APTC) in Samoa where he is currently being trained as a chef. “My family is very happy with my current situation as I have always liked cooking but have never had the opportunity to make it profitable,’ said Mr. Faletoagai. “My dream is to open my own restaurant one day.”

Commenting on the results of the Culinary Training Programme, Chef Michael Hardy, Vice-President of the Samoan Culinary Association said, “With their dedication and belief in the programme, 12 young men and women are now employed full-time and have an exciting career in front of them.”  

The success of this training programme paved the way for a new project: the Culinary Grassroots Traineeships Programme for Youth. This project will provide 18 Samoan youths an opportunity to be trained in culinary skills and techniques, with the prospect of employment in the hospitality and tourism industry.

Chef Joe Lam, Owner of Scallini’s Restaurant and President of the Samoan Culinary Association explains: “These trainees are the future of the Samoan Culinary industry and they fill a great need as they are trained kitchen staff. They can now help and assist in their kitchens and if they persist in their work, they can undertake further studies through APTC and become fully qualified chefs.”

The UN provided funding support of USD$10,000 towards the Culinary Grassroots Traineeships Programme for Youth through the Samoa One-UN YEP by way of a Memorandum of Understanding signed on 18 March 2017 between the Samoa Culinary Association and the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development (MWCSD).  

“We are very pleased to be able to support this Traineeships Programme with the Samoa Culinary Association through the Samoa One-UN YEP,” said Liz Cullity, Resident Coordinator of the UN in Samoa. “These are some of the invaluable opportunities that are being developed to support and encourage skills development of our youth. 

“It is essential that we continue to build on these key partnerships with the Government of Samoa, the private sector and CSOs, to ensure the effective engagement and contribution of youth to the development of Samoa.” 

The Samoa One-UN YEP aims to address, in a holistic manner, the challenges of youth unemployment. It remains focused on developing more opportunities for youth training and employment in Samoa in close partnership with the Government of Samoa through the MWCSD, as well as partnerships with a range of public, private and non-state actors engaged in youth employment related initiatives.