Guam's training programs slowly alleviating manpower shortages in private and public sectors
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
For decades, jobs for skilled professions on Guam have been sitting empty due to a perennial labor shortage on island.
While relying on the H2-B program to meet the island’s labor needs, the Guam Department of Labor has stepped up efforts to build a local workforce through the Registered Apprenticeship Program.
The program has been gaining momentum drawing local interest over the years, according to the labor agency.
In the last six years, the number of apprentices enrolled in the Guam Registered Apprenticeship Program has grown exponentially from 229 in 2018 to 433 in 2023, according to the labor department.
The program is an industry-driven training initiative that provides the opportunity for workers to earn and learn at the same time.
“There are close to 600 active apprentices on Guam who earn income while learning skills from more than 50 occupations,” the department said.
“When we stepped into office, we made a commitment to developing a skilled workforce,” Lt. Gov. Joshua Tenorio said.
Guam is in the midst of a construction boom fueled by the $11 billion military buildup that entails projects aimed at meeting the demands of a population increase.
“I’m proud to say that nearly five years later, through the resilience of our community and the collaborative efforts between industries and educational institutions, we have been able to not just overcome obstacles but expand these programs into other industries to meet future demands of our island,” Tenorio said as Guam joins the nation in celebrating the National Apprenticeship Week from Nov. 13 to 17.
The training of local workforce also extends to the public sector.
At the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency, the 13th training cycle has registered 36 trainees.
“In witnessing this cycle’s journey over the past nine months, I’ve seen remarkable growth, unwavering commitment, and hard work,” said CQA Training Supervisor Capt. Raymond Blas.
“As they prepare to step into their roles as customs officers, I am confident their commitment will continueto shine, and I look forward to seeing the positive impact they will make on the front lines,” he added.
Since beginning the cycle in February, CQA said the trainees pursued completion of the Guam Community College Criminal Justice Academy, firearms qualifications, physical fitness aligned with the Customs and Quarantine physical abilities test, meeting the ideals of the Guam Peace officer standards and Training Commission, and familiarization with local and federal customs laws, regulations, and standard operating procedures.
The trainees are forging ahead with on-the-job immersion and skill application at Guam’s five ports of entry: the A.B. Won Pat Guam International Airport Authority, Port Authority of Guam, U.S. Postal Service Main Facility, Andersen Air Force Base, Agat Marina, and other sites where CQA duties must be executed.
CQA currently has 106 sworn officers safeguarding our island daily through the screening of passengers at all ports of entry; the interdiction of drugs, pests, diseases, bioterrorism, terrorists, criminals, counterfeit and potentially harmful goods; and import entry processing in the legitimate facilitation of trade, commerce, and travel.
“The resilience of our island, our people, and the resources sustaining our quality of life rely on our ability to more efficiently deter harmful items and individuals from disrupting and potentially destroying what matters most,” said CQA Director Ike Peredo.
“Augmenting our force is key to accomplishing this. I commend every trainee for their zeal to serve, those who’ve helped build their capacity, and the continued support of our administration," Peredo added.