Guam faces a serious labor shortage at the same time as the demands for skilled workers will reach a high the island has not seen for many years.
Not only will there be a surge in construction on military properties and their environs but the commercial sector is also going to see rebuilding and renovation.
This is just what the island has been waiting for but is not unforeseen. Industry leaders and our economists have been telling us that better times were coming.
But where will the workers come from to fill the jobs?
Some members of our business community now seem practically prophetic in their warnings that a skilled-labor shortage would affect the construction industry on the island.
This Journal has reported previously on the lack of skilled labor in interviews with such people as John Robertson president of AmOrient Contracting and Mathews Pothen chief executive officer of the Guam Shipyard.
The construction industry in Guam is already suffering from a shortage of the variety of workers it so obviously needs.
National factors are now coming into play. Guam is not the only location in the United States where the construction industry is robust. There is a demand for skilled labor throughout the country.
As the Journal reports in this issue the federal immigration program — that allows U.S. companies to bring additional people into the skilled labor pool — will see its allocation for the present year used up by February.
Whether the U.S. government raises the number of skilled workers allowed into the country or not the labor shortage on Guam will not go away any time soon.
The construction industry’s growth is a major economic indicator and the surge in our economy is to the benefit of our people — who need employment.
The problems will take some time to resolve. Let’s get cracking.
Specific educational courses to fill the demand for electricians carpenters welders and plasterers are what are needed. And additional tax breaks for those employers who bring apprentices into their companies would help the island’s businesses as they prepare for the coming boom.
The time has come to do more than talk about the labor shortage — the island needs a swift and efficient plan with input from all constituents who stand to benefit from the growth that is coming.