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Lolo: Jobs available to returnees with degrees

“We want to send a loud message to the youth of American Samoa that employment will be available to anyone who successfully graduates from college or university and returns home to serve our people,” was the message behind Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga’s Post Graduate Apprenticeship Program.


Earlier this month the governor called a meeting with college graduates holding BA and MA degrees, and following that meeting 27 unemployed college graduates were hired according to their fields. This is a milestone for the American Samoa Government, as it is the first time ASG has called upon returning college graduates and offered them employment.


In his recent letter to Directors, Lolo commended them for supporting the program.


“When the policy was set changing the entry salary threshold for degree holders, it projected our recognition of the inherent efforts in the process of obtaining a degree, but also to incentivize more of our young people to secure four year degrees based on the national trend that available jobs now require bachelors and higher degrees more than high school diplomas or associate degrees.”


The governor pointed out this policy also emphasizes the fact that American Samoa’s future is intrinsically tied to the quality of its intellectual assets, hence, all government employees without degrees should aspire to attain the required level of education now being demanded in the workplace.


He noted that issued policy was mindful of the salary disparity which will certainly evolve because of salary restrictions, attributed to past compensation policies, placing some of the college graduates in the workplace below the current salary threshold.


The entry salary is for those who have just graduated and are now entering the workforce. “The disparity will arise for college graduates who are already in the system and who have work experience under their belt.”


During a meeting held on this newly implemented program in January, he noted although there are not available slots in all departments or agencies, he asked that job opportunities for these college graduates be created, and said that if there’s no funding available the director should still take them in and then make amendments to their budget for the next fiscal year, reflecting the new employees.


“We now have hopes that our workforce can be improved by having more people who are well educated and are prepared to work,” the governor said, emphasizing the importance of ethics in public service and their commitment to serve. 


“One last caution from us — I know your attitude is very important, it doesn't matter what degree you have — but this is Samoa, you will find it very hard to work with people if your attitude is not right… and that’s one of our biggest problems. When students return home, they cannot fit into the system because they try to express a different type of attitude. But what it takes to get things done down here, is team work.


“So whomever you are assigned to work with — make sure that you work WITH them. Anyone who does not make an effort to work as a team will never succeed in this life,” he stated.


The governor in his letter informed Directors that Human Resources Director Sonny Thompson has been tasked to work with each Director to address the salaries of ASG employees who are currently below the established salary threshold.


ASG employees who have attained BA and MA degrees will have a boost in salary, if they are currently making $22,000 or less. BA degree holders will now work at $23K per year, while those with MA degrees will work at $27K.


The governor did acknowledge that $23k is not much, however the current Human Resources (HR) pay scale for those with Bachelor’s degrees has them starting at $17K.


Lolo said Thompson will prepare a final report for his review and decision once its completed.