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Biz group supportive, in principle of admin’s post-grad program

Seeks more dialogue with governor to move economy forward
fili@samoanews.com

The Chamber of Commerce board hopes to meet soon with Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga on an administration Post-Graduate Apprenticeship Program, in which the government will partner with the private sector to place college graduates with degrees in the private sector, says board chairman David Robinson, who does not plan to seek office for 2014.
 
The program was first revealed in early July this year during a cabinet meeting where the governor urged all college graduates—those with bachelors and masters degrees who have not obtained employment— to register with the Department of Human Resources, which has since registered about 75 of them.
 
Responding to Samoa News questions, Robinson says the Chamber has has not been consulted regarding this initiative.
 
“In principle the Chamber is supportive and considers that it is an idea worthy of more discussion particularly in relation to which industry sectors in the private sector can accommodate an increase in staff numbers at a time when business is not the best for most businesses,” Robinson said last Friday.
 
He also said this matter is on the agenda for the next Chamber board meeting and after discussion the Chamber shall issue a formal position statement.
 
Robinson said the Chamber board would like to meet with the governor and his advisors upon his return to the territory “so that this proposal receives the best possible consideration in order to make sure that is operationally effective in providing our graduates with the best possible employment opportunities in both the private and public sectors.” (The governor returned last Friday evening following off-island meetings in the U.S.)
 
Last week the Chamber sent out a message to its members seeking their thoughts and views on this program.
 
Under the FY 2014 budget, the administration allocated $1 million under the ‘Economic Development/Private Sector Initiative’, which the governor says entails the placement of college degree holders into private sector jobs. The funds will provide an incentive to the private sector participant to place the candidate in an entry level management position reflective of the aspiration of the college graduate.
 
A full compensation subsidy period will be set at six months, and the following six months would see the subsidy gradually lessen, until it reaches zero at the end of the 12th month. Thereafter, the participant company will assume the full cost of the candidate’s salary — if the company decides to keep the candidate employed.
 
Meanwhile, Robinson last week informed Chamber members he will not seek re-election during the Dec. 4 general membership meeting in which a new board will be appointed. The executive team is then selected from the board, as is the normal Chamber practice.
 
He says 2014 will see the second year of Gov. Lolo Moliga and his administration and there are some important issues regarding the lack of current economic development and investment that need to be discussed between the Chamber and the administration “in order to try to move our economy forward.”
 
“I hope that the new Board will have an important role to play in assisting the Administration with policy reform issues and economic development matters,” he said and noted that he will not stand in for election to the board.
 
“I have led the Chamber for five terms as chairman and I consider that it is time for me to bow out and let someone else take over the leadership,” he wrote to Chamber members. “I think that over the past years the Chamber has gone from strength to strength and it has established itself as a credible and respected organization both within the private and the public sectors.”
 
He thanked the membership and fellow Board members for their support during his tenure as chairman.
 
“I am aware that this support has at times been difficult for them as my particular operating style and personality do not appeal to everybody, and my critics have in their roundabout ways made me aware of this fact,” he said.  “I have, however always been honest in my opinions and completely up front with my views.”
 
In closing he wished the Chamber all the best for the future “and I shall of course watch its progress with interest under a new leadership.”
 
Robinson will remain an active member of the private sector—overseeing his local import company—as well as being involved in community service such as being chairman of the Hope House board of directors and Treasurer of the American Samoa Rugby Union.
 
He will also continue his service in government, as chairman of the ASG Shipyard Services Authority and co-chair of the Governor’s Economic Advisory Council.



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