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Chosen by industry, ready to work — job ops for the territory

There are seven UTI grads currently working for the American Samoa Power Authority, and according to ASPA’s head, Utu Abe Malae, their “excellent hands-on skills” benefit ASPA immensely.  Seen here are four of those UTI grads, who all hold positions of responsibility in the agency, which has received numerous awards for innovation, leadership, customer service and progressive work in the field. The fifth person (far right) is UTI representative Jason Tagal, who will be in the Territory this week. Seen here
UTI grads benefit the Territory- and the world

There are many kinds of recruitment in the Territory, and for those interested in hands-on training for very specialized, in-demand technical skills, this week may be the time to check out the presentations being given by UTI representative Jason Tagal in the lobby at the Tradewinds Hotel.

Presentations highlighting these opportunities started yesterday and continue until Friday this week. 

Based in Hawai’i, Jason is a graduate of Universal Technical Institute (UTI) and following in the footsteps of his father, Tony Tagal, he is a representative for UTI in Hawaii and the Pacific region. His father began recruiting American Samoa students in the early ‘90s, and Jason has continued the tradition since 2004. 

Said Jason of this effort, “The Training Programs at UTI have been a good fit for many American Samoan students over the years,” and he is pleased to be able to return to the Territory once again to offer this specialized training to those students who find great satisfaction in working with their hands and accomplishing complex mechanical and technical projects.

He proudly noted that seven UTI graduates now work for the American Samoa Power Authority, and ASPA CEO Utu Abe Malae told Samoa News "They have excellent hands-on skills, and combined with the theoretical knowledge of the apprentices from New Zealand, ASPA benefits immensely.”

 The local UTI grads now working for the Territory’s power authority include Mark Sagato, Junior Lauvao, Tasele Scanlan, Daniel Niusulu, Sione Fa’alogo, Kotaro Umebayashi, and Robert Randall.

If the dynamic, hands-on part interests you, these are the courses being currently offered by UTI:

*    Automotive *Diesel/Industrial Power Generation *Hydraulics *Transport Refrigeration *Welding *Fabrication *CNC Machine Shop *Collision Repair *NASCAR *Marine & Motorcycle.  

According to Tagal, opportunities exist in the States, and across the Pacific (indeed, the world) in these skilled trade industries, and one of the most important ways to prepare for your future career is to learn your trade through practical experience. In a hands-on environment, the student engages deeply with materials and concepts, which lead to problem solving skills that prepare the student for anything encountered on the job, he told Samoa News.

Tagal said most of the UTI training — about 70%— is hands on in the shop, with the remaining 30% in the classroom or on the computer, exploring how machines and machine systems work.


Tagal notes that there are students who have struggled through traditional classes in high school… English, history and other academic subjects, which lack a physical connection to what is being taught in textbooks, lectures and worksheets.

“There are those people who do better with hands-on training, since practice, trial and error, and patience with a particular task will eventually result in a tangible reward — something which they can physically see or use.”

“For example, when a student welds a broken pipe that was leaking, they immediately see the result, which is rewarding. Or when they are taught how a machine works — first in class to understand the underlying theory — then they are able to actually see the parts working together in symmetry in the shop — this resonates well with certain people.”

“And they are further allowed to actually disassemble and reassemble the machine with the various tools which are needed,” giving them the complete picture, he added.

“After a few months of hands-on training, they see that with persistence and guidance, they can eventually become confident enough to tear down, repair, and reassemble any type of vehicle or machine. And while they may not have experience with every different system out there, they will understand that the specific details and nuances of any system can easily be obtained from the various manufacturers. The basic theories about how electricity, hydraulics and combustion work is the same for any technical system.”

Interestingly, he noted that hands-on training also allows the student to use all of their senses. The feeling and weight of the tools, visual confirmation of symmetry, smell to determine if something has become burnt or degraded, and sound to listen for the rhythm of a properly tuned motor, or the hiss of something escaping — these all come into play in technical training.

“And finally — no matter how high-tech the world becomes with the computerization and automation of many things, we will still be relying on the people who can use their hands and tools to take care of all this important machinery,” Jason stated.

“Transportation, shelter, infrastructure, food production, national defense, natural resource allocation and power generation will all remain critically important in the future. We will still rely on machines for all of these important things, which mean very good careers for our special hands-on learners.”


Samoa News asked Tagal “Is there a place at UTI for those interested in a green economy? Diesel and other fossil fuels have a limited life span as the world moves toward a green economy. What do you have for those students?”

Tagal stated, “As we move towards renewable fuels and more of a green economy, it will be the same thing… machinery and technicians will still be needed. The green economy will have green machinery!  We will shift to extensive battery systems, solar panels, wind and marine power sources, electrical switch gears, hydrogen fuel cells, lots of automation through extensive sensors and control modules — all of these new systems will still need specially trained hands-on people.”  

Regarding vehicles, he said, “Many of the same companies, (i.e. Ford, Toyota, GM) are designing and already building new generations of cleaner and more efficient vehicles,and  UTI will train on the new technologies as the new technologies arrive. We have technical contracts and agreements in place with most of the major manufacturers to receive their latest technical information and curriculum. As new companies emerge, with their cleaner electric vehicles, we will also, in time, train to their needs.”

“The lap-top based, diagnostic scanner is already the most important tool that our students learn about today and that part of our training will certainly expand even more.”

He added, “Tesla regularly recruits graduates from our campuses today.   The electronics and autonomous portion of our training will expand while the combustion side may diminish.” 

Jason said he looks forward to meeting with the next generation of students this week. He can be reached at the Tradewinds Hotel, or through the UTI website, Financial aid and lifetime job placement assistance for graduates are both available.

(See ads in Samoa News for dates and times of the UTI presentations this week.)