By Pacific Island Times News Staff
The Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration today announced the awarding of a $1.2 million grant to Guam Community College to support its workforce development programs.
The grant will support renovations and improvements to GCC's Guam Workforce Development Center, which hosts programs that are projected to create 1,800 jobs and retain 200 jobs, according to GCC's estimates.
Awarded through CARES Act Recovery Assistance Program, the federal grant will be locally matched with $1.2 million.
Commerce Secretary Gina M. Raimondo said the EDA's investment will support the expansion of GCC's workforce development programs to ensure residents have the skills they need to compete for good-paying jobs.
“The Economic Development Administration plays an important role in supporting community-led economic development strategies designed to boost coronavirus recovery and response efforts,” said Alejandra Y. Castillo, assistant secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “This project will provide the critical infrastructure needed to assist Guam Community College in meeting the needs of its vocational training programs and Guam’s businesses and workforce.”
“We are happy to see our congressional work on the CARES ACT continue to yield results for the people of Guam, and are particularly pleased that more support for workforce development is on the way at a time when our island needs as much support as it can get in this area,” said Congressman Michael San Nicolas.
Guam has been experiencing a labor shortage, especially in the health care and trade sectors. The island has been relying on H-1B and H-2B to fill job positions.
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GCC has teamed up with the business sector and various agencies in the territory's efforts to develop a skilled workforce.
This week, GCC announced the completion of its first-ever Bus Driver Work-Ready Boot Camp, which began in February.
In partnership with the Guam Department of Labor, the Department of Public Works and Kloppenberg Enterprises Inc., GCC's boot camp seeks to build a pool of certified and licensed bus drivers to operate tour buses and school transportation.
Of the 23 participants who started the program, 15 completed the boot camp and took the exam for a Class “D” license. All 15 individuals passed their test. The Class “D” License is a chauffeur license with the “D” endorsement allowing for the operation of 15 to 90 passenger vehicles, including school buses and tour buses.
To attain a Class “D” License an individual must be 18 years of age and up; take and pass a chauffeur written test; receive Department of Transportation clearance from their physician; get a Class “D” License operating permit; then take and pass a bus road test, according to Arthur Meno, acting supervisor, Driver’s License Examination Branch.
After successful completion of this boot camp, completers were hired by DPW and KEI. Those hired by DPW are already earning a paycheck through the Guam Department of Labor and will eventually transition to limited-term employees. The KEI participants are also employed as bus drivers and dispatchers.