Pre-apprenticeship program underway, officials say ‘this is just the beginning’
The Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association’s pre-apprenticeship program began last week, with 284 residents enrolled and high hopes for the future of workforce development on Guam.
“We have to really support workforce development,” Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said. “An educated labor force, a skilled labor force, a labor force that is competent is the key to success, not just in our economy, but even in improving our quality of life for our people.”
Officials discussed the start of the pre-apprenticeship program during a press conference at Adelup on Tuesday.
The 12-week program, launched in conjunction with the Guam Department of Labor, provides free training in tourism industry-related skill areas, with the goal of offering a pathway for the unemployed, underemployed or unskilled workers on island to launch their tourism-related careers.
The pre-apprenticeship program is the first step for residents lacking skills, and can lead to future apprenticeship or full-time employment.
This year’s participants include 22 unemployed residents, according to Mary Rhodes, president of the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association. The program aims for 100% job placement.
Pay for apprentices can range from $8.53, not including tips or service charge, up to $33 an hour, depending on both the type of job and the employer, Rhodes said. Some pre-apprentices, such as those unemployed, are unpaid through the duration of the program.
Many of the participants in the program have been in the industry for years, but never had any official certification, Rhodes said.
“It’s really about getting, not just basic skill sets, but qualified, and better, higher skilled employees so we can increase our service levels on island,” she said.
The 284 participants are split among 18 cohorts, she said. Pathways include front desk representatives, housekeeping, facilities maintenance, cooks, kitchen cooks, restaurant servers, occupational health and safety specialists, and digital marketing specialists.
Several hotels and some restaurants are involved in the pre-apprenticeship program, the largest being Hilton Guam Resort & Spa, according to Rhodes. Hyatt Regency Guam, Fiesta Resort Guam, Leopalace Resort Guam, Beachin Shrimp 2, Three Squares and Sea Grill are also involved in the program.
“This is just the beginning,” Leon Guerrero said, adding that she hopes to see similar apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs in aquaculture, agriculture and cruise ship industries.
Apprenticeships are a viable option for the island’s workforce development, said David Dell’Isola, director of Guam Department of Labor.
It allows employers to grow their staff, he said, while also providing the means for those that are unemployed or otherwise under-qualified to gain the skills necessary to find job placements.
“We’re not just placing them in jobs, we’re building careers,” Dell’Isola said.
Registration is closed for the pre-apprenticeship program, however, officials hope to sustain the program in the future for more opportunities.