BY EMILY MEIDENBAUER
The Guam International Training Center aims to fill needs for employers, employees, and students alike by offering a variety of services and training programs.
Currently based out of the SureStay Hotel by Best Western Guam Airport South, the training center has been in operation for 29 years, though it recently relaunched in March.
“We actually used to operate the same Guam training center,” said Pacita A. Tomada, owner and president. “My daughter was in charge then. She passed away and this has kind of been inactive for many years, and then we decided to revive it.”
Tomada said the center was inactive from 2018 to 2020.
The center occupies about 4,500 square feet of space at the hotel, using conference rooms, a banquet room, and several other small spaces. Tomada said there was not much cost of investment to relaunch.
“We already had some of the materials, but we had to purchase new laptops and update the website, so maybe $10,000 to $15,000,” she said.
Tomada is owner of Tent Corp., which does business as SureStay, as well as overseeing the attached joint car rental building of Alamo Rent a Car, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and National Car Rental. She also oversees car rental locations in Saipan, Palau and Cebu (Philippines). Her assets have been beneficial to the operation of the training center.
“That’s why we have access to the rooms,” she said. “And on the fourth floor, we have suites there, so that’s what we’re eying should we need to expand.”
The training center offers a wide variety of courses for those seeking employment. Current courses include accounting, computerized QuickBooks; the roles of administrative assistant and bank teller; basic computer skills, driver’s education, basic and advanced math, medical billing and coding, and phlebotomy. Other courses include the roles of electrocardiogram technician, medical administrative assistant, patient care technician; as well as effective customer service, leadership training, sales effectiveness, fundamentals of human resources management and first line supervision.
The training center also promises small class sizes, certificates of completion, and short courses, averaging 30 hours.
“It’s about lower cost, hands-on, practical learning,” Mary Garvilles, operations manager, told the Journal. “We’re going to teach you our practical skill set. And you don’t have to do all the general education like with a four-year college, and there’s less hours — like 30 hours.”
Instructors for the training center are working professionals, or retirees. Students may have the opportunity for apprenticeship, working in the field and getting hands-on experience to help them succeed. The training center partners with local businesses for apprenticeships and employment following training programs. Some students are also given the opportunity to apprentice or work at the car rental center or the hotel.
“Networking with the Guam Chamber of Commerce, we try to contact businesses that we know are willing to use [students] and go through the apprenticeship program,” Tomada said.
Guam International Training Center is certified with the Department of Labor and is registered on the Eligible Training Programs/Providers List, and through the Department of Labor and the American Jobs Center, through which prospective employees may be sent for training.
“If you don’t have a job, you go to the Department of Labor, but to get a job, you need to have some skills,” Tomada said. “What they do is, they provide the training. It’s funded by federal grants, and the student is being sent to us for training, and at the same time, we help that person find a job. We don’t guarantee [a job], but we help.”
Tomada says she finds fulfillment in her work with the training center and enjoys hearing success stories of students who have gone through training programs.
“I’m very passionate about training for employees and those people who don’t even have jobs,” she said. “I’ve lived on Guam for over 30 years and I like to support the community by giving jobs to the citizens of Guam. It’s a fulfillment when you train somebody and you find out they already got a job through the training, especially because some of them are recipients of food stamps and [Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority] housing. Some of them were even incarcerated. I give them second chances. That’s the way we give back to the community and that was the motivation.”
In addition to employment training, the training center offers college preparation services from admission guidance, essay writing, entrance exams, and test preparation for the Scholastic Assessment Test, Test of English as a Foreign Language, General Educational Development, and Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery. It also offers tutoring services.
“With COVID [students] don’t have that hands-on aspect, but [parents] don’t want their children behind,” Garvilles said. “I really see the frustration in parents during COVID. And so — we have offered online tutoring. My big goal and my hope is that I can get a grant to have tutoring centers in the villages.” mbj