Apprenticeship training kicks off next Monday
The Department of Youth and Women's Affairs (DYWA) in collaboration with the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) Trades and Technology Division (TTD) and the business community will be hosting the Apprenticeship and Workforce Development Training Program from Oct. 7- Nov. 28, 2013.
The program will focus on four skills training courses in the areas of carpentry (kamuta), electrical (fai uila moli), automotive (inisinia taavale) and welding (uela).
Earlier this year, said DYWA acting director Pa'u Roy Ausage, there was a discussion with Governor Lolo M. Moliga on the need to establish a skills training center similar to Job Corps.
According to Pa'u, the Shipyard Authority came to the rescue and agreed to host the welding apprentices who will eventually receive employment. Four youth apprentices started last Monday and are in their second week of welding training under the tutelage of Tautai Faleafaga.
In response to the advertisement for apprentices, 16 youth applied — six in welding, two in spray painting, two in machinery, two in carpentry, one each in plumbing and automotive and two in mechanical.
When the welding apprenticeship was launched, four participants attended while the other two had secured jobs elsewhere and could not be part of the program.
The other ten youth had to be trained somewhere and the need to connect with ASCC’s TTD was realized.
Pa'u said Fred Suisala of ASCC's TTD supported the idea of recruiting high risk and at-risk youths who have graduated from high school and remain idle at home due to lack of skills and employment.
According to Pa'u, Suisala reiterated the need to ensure each class has at least ten participants in order for the class to be implemented.
In response, DYWA is offering 40 slots—ten slots for each course.
Pa'u said that after consultation with Governor Lolo, a small budget has been set aside to pay for registration fees and tuition costs for the 40 slots, which amount to an average of $300 per youth or $12,000 total.
“This is a strong indication that the Governor fully supports investing in the skills training of our youth and women in order for them to secure gainful employment and not have to depend on skilled workers from outside the Territory to fill such trade and vocational employment vacancies,” Pa'u said.
The DYWA acting director explained additional courses will be offered next year, depending on the needs assessment — including Refrigeration and Air-conditioning, Computer Technology, and others. Those interested in Refrigeration and Air-conditioning training must take Electrical courses as a prerequisite.
“The other important component of the training is the involvement and engagement of the business community to provide opportunities for practical and hands-on training,” Pa'u said, adding that letters have been sent to different companies for assistance and this is a model that should be adopted in all apprenticeship programs in the territory — a collaborative model of skills training whereby ASCC does the theoretical part and the business community supervises the practical aspect.
American Samoa has a long history with the United States — a relationship that demanded a blue collar workforce in order to enhance the USA's presence in the Territory and the Pacific.
The arrival of the canneries in the Territory saw an increase in the area of vocational and trade and contributed to the development of the local blue collar workforce. Apprenticeship trainings were set up in various areas and there was a pool of qualified individuals waiting for a slot in vocational and trade related employment.
In the early 1980s, the local DOE had full control of the “Skills Center” at Tafuna where the ANZ-Amerika Samoa Bank is now located. Students from all high schools — Leone, Tafuna, Samoana, and Fagaitua — were required to go to the skills center in the afternoon to take Industrial Art classes. This was the beginning of a known structured skills center set-up in American Samoa.
In 1993 when Governor A.P. Lutali took office for his second administration, a need to develop a technical high school resurfaced, and Nu’uuli Polytechnical School was born. However, a change of administration led to the reorganization of the polytech school and it downsized the number of technical courses available in the areas of carpentry, electrical, plumbing, welding, etc.
Currently, the school is now known as Vocational Technical High School — VocTech for short — and continues to offer limited technical courses, with core courses for high school diplomas.
Pa’u — who at the time was director of the National Youth Office under former Governor Lutali — has continued to be interested in a program to assist local high school graduates who can’t enter ASCC due to financial or academic reasons.
All high school graduates between 18 and 30 years old, those who are unemployed, and individuals wanting to learn a new skill can call Pa'u Roy Ausage at 633-2835 or Fred Suisala at 699-9155 ext. 353 for more information about the apprenticeship program.
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