By Pacific Island Times News Staff
The Guam legislature today unanimously passed a bill that would authorize the renewal of the Guam Registered Apprenticeship Program for another five years through 2029.
Sen. Amanda Shelton’s Bill 120-37 now heads to Adelup for approval.
GRAP incentivizes businesses to recruit, train and retain skilled workers. Jobs are matched with graduates of various certificate and degree programs at Guam Community College.
Bill 120-37 provides a 50 percent credit on GRT to participating companies for direct wages of apprentices, direct fringe benefits, journeyman’s wages, instructor costs, training costs, and personal protective equipment that was incorporated into the original law by the 28th Guam Legislature.
GRAP was initiated on Guam after the island lost a large number of skilled federal civilian ship repair workers in the 1990s. Today, training is available in diversified 21st-century technology-driven industries, including renewable energy, telecommunications, and logistics that were in their infancy when Guam was losing ship repair jobs.
“If approved, Bill 120-37 will provide more opportunities for Guamanians to become skilled workers and pursue highly rewarding, meaningful careers in various industries right here at home,” Shelton said. “Today our own people can serve in jobs that are critical to the growth and stability of our island and the region.”
Local employers and the Guam Department of Labor support extending GRAP beyond 2024.
According to Selina Ashland, apprenticeship coordinator for the Guam Shipyard, “The continued success for the GRAP is rooted in a strong public/private partnership.”
“The most common detrimental factor in privately-run programs is the lack of funding available to train. Most small businesses are unable to absorb direct operational costs and costs to administer and execute a workforce development program. GRAP Tax Credit must be continued for small businesses to train apprentices in the ship repair industry,” Ashland added.
During a public hearing on the bill, Juan Flores, initiatives coordinator at the labor department, endorsed the program extension, stating that GRAP “has achieved the goals of employing necessary staff members for government and private industry employers and developing career pathways for participating employees.”
Flores said GRAP incentives have led to noticeable results and should continue to support workforce development efforts in the near and distant future.