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Samoa has become the first country in the Pacific to put a cap on the number of workers taking part in Australia and New Zealand’s labour mobility scheme. The new rules, which will come into force in mid-2024, will limit the number of Samoan workers in the program to 12,000.

The Pacific labour scheme allows citizens from certain Pacific island nations to take up temporary work in specific industries in Australia and New Zealand. It provides an important source of remittances for many Pacific economies. However, there have been concerns that too many workers leaving can impact essential services back home. By capping the number, Samoa is trying to strike a balance between meeting demand for overseas work and retaining skills domestically. The 12,000 limit approximately matches the current number of Samoan citizens in the programme.

The new rules will also give priority selection to Samoan citizens who have been unemployed for over 6 months. This aims to provide opportunities to those most in need of work and income. Supporters of the cap hope it will force employers to improve pay and conditions to attract and retain staff domestically.

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