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“Self motivation” constant challenge faced by ASNEG

Despite the success of the American Samoa National Emergency Grant (ASNEG) program in training and graduating 30 participants in Guam, the “constant challenge” faced by the Center for Micronesian Empowerment (CME) and the ASNEG staff was “self motivation” by some members of the group, says Evelyn Vaitautolu Langford, director of the local Department of Human Resources, who administered the ASNEG program.

It was CME who provided training for the participants.

The group arrived in Guam in February this year under the training program funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s National Emergency Grant program. The goal was to get these individuals trained and employed in the military build up in Guam.

Asked for an update on the Guam participants, Langford said 27 of the 30 participants were placed in unsubsidized employment upon completion of the training with jobs in construction, retail and security, while three are still actively pursuing employment opportunities.

“Of the 27 participants that found jobs, a few of them are no longer employed with the companies where they were initially hired, due to relocation to another job outside of Guam or due to poor work performance,” Langford said in an update of the program following a request from Samoa News for an update.

“Those who are actively employed have established their own residence, acquired transportation and have transitioned very well in joining the Guam workforce,” she said, adding that one of the goals of the NEG program as established by the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) is to assist eligible dislocated workers and the long-term unemployed. 

“A constant challenge for the CME and American Samoa NEG staff with a few of the participants was in the area of self-motivation,” said Langford. “As successful as the program has been for the majority of the participants who were actively engaged in the training, it has been overshadowed with challenges related to a participant's motivation to stay focused and on track with the curriculum and training activities.”

“To capture all of the lessons learned from this experience”, a Request for Proposal and Solicitation was announced in February 2012 through the ASG Procurement Office for the ASNEG program Review and and Evaluation, she said.

The contract was awarded to the Social Policy Research Associates organization to conduct a comprehensive program audit review and evaluation of the grant activities since its inception in October 2009. 

“One of the tasks includes identifying and documenting effective practices and lessons learned to inform future program development and capacity building efforts. The final report is due out this summer,” said Langford, who is also the Governor’s Authorized Representative to the federal government on disasters.

“This employment and training activity has been a challenging venture for both the CME and local ASNEG staff,” she explained. “Through continuous dialogue, communication and interventions between staff, they have diligently worked thru each scenario to assist and ensure success for the participant, absolute compliance with the federal grant policies and attainment of program outcomes, goals and deliverables.”

Langford said she is “elated with the success of the program” and grateful the Region VI Employment and Training Administration of the US Department of Labor, thru which both Gov. Togiola Tulafono and Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo “established this bridge of connecting a regional workforce”.

She thanked the director of the CME, Jay Merrill and his staff, the management of the local ASNEG program under the leadership of Makerita Enesi and Tuimavave Tauapai Laupola, and Dr. Papalii Failautusi Avegalio and Dr. Clarence Cheshire with the University of Hawaii Pacific Business Center Program “for their tireless efforts in assisting American Samoa with a Workforce Development Strategy that has served as the approved strategy and roadmap to the employment and training activities executed under the grant award.”

Asked if DHR plans to expand this program in Guam, Langford said, “Currently there are no plans to implement another session from American Samoa under the NEG, however, it remains a viable activity to explore for future workforce development and employment opportunities.”