The Guam Contractors’ Association (GCA) will establish an apprenticeship program on Guam.

James A. Martinez executive director of the Guam Contractors’ Association told the Journal the association has not been satisfied with Guam Community College’s apprenticeship program.

The association has a registered apprenticeship-training program through GCC. Martinez said "We’ve had one since the mid 60s. Over the past nine or 10 years we noticed the community college wasn’t actually delivering what we wanted in terms of the product "" the training of our local workforce in the construction industry. So we did some research and found a program that is a recognized and standardized curriculum for the construction trades."

He said "A lot of companies are enthusiastic about this. In fact we have a commitment from Perez Bros. Inc has given the Guam Contractors’ Association a $10 000 interest-free loan for startup capital."

According to Martinez the association learned about the curriculum in 1995 which would fit Guam’s needs for construction skilled workers and introduced it to GCC. "They just never really did anything with it since then. We are coming up to a critical point where we are going to be heading into a huge construction boom. This boom should surpass previous booms like the one in the late 80s and early 90s."

Martinez said in order to prepare Guam’s skilled laborers and the island for the upcoming boom "What we decided as an association was that we needed to establish our own construction trades academy. With this construction trades academy we are going to utilize this standardized and recognized curriculum called the Contren Learning Series under the National Center for Construction Education and Research."

Martinez called the program a turnkey curriculum. It consists of four different levels and each level has a step-by-step process. It was developed and created by trades-people at the NCCER. Martinez said with the current apprenticeship program journeymen workers teach different skills but many times the journeymen are not necessarily teachers. They might not know how to structure a lesson plan so it makes sense to the apprentice.

The new program is divided into four levels and each level is equivalent to a year. Those four years include classroom instruction and on-the-job training. "Depending on how aggressive the student is they could complete two levels in one year " he said. Once the students complete the program they receive dual certificates; one a certificate of completion from the NCCER the other a journeyman certificate from the U.S. Department of Labor. Students who enroll and are working in a trade can receive credit for the work they did before enrolling. For those students the program would emphasize the classroom time and they would not have to complete the four years of on-the-job training. Depending on how much credit they receive they may only have to complete an additional year of training.

Martinez said the association already has the accreditation to start the program. "We already have a registered apprenticeship training program with the U.S. Department of Labor and we are an accredited training sponsor of the National Center of Construction Education and Research. It accredits our training program under the NCCER."

When the program is established it will only concentrate on a few fields and will be geared more towards training the current workforce. "To start with we will concentrate on the trades that are in demand. We are looking to start with carpentry electrical AC refrigeration masonry and heavy equipment operations. Eventually we will include the others " he said.

Martinez said "Many junior colleges vocational and trades institutions are now using this curriculum for instruction." He said if a person starts the program on Guam and moves to the U.S. he or she could continue with the program at another institution. With the current program the academics would transfer but the trade theory doesn’t necessarily transfer.

None of the trade academy details have been finalized but the association has formed a committee to iron out the details. MBJ