THE Guam Department of Labor’s employment service division recently announced the availability of an off-island skills training program for eligible youths who cannot afford to go to school but are interested in pursuing vocational education.
The Hawaii Job Corps program under the Guam Department of Labor, currently managed by Guam Employment Service Division administrator Catalina Cruz, offers academic and vocational skills training for individuals aged 16 to 24. One of the eligibility requirements for admission is that the applicant should come from a low-income household.
In terms of income eligibility requirements, if the applicant comes from a family of three, their combined household income should not exceed $18,326. For a family of five, the income should not go beyond $26,687.
What is unique about the Hawaii Job Corps is that all applicants admitted to the program spend their vocational skills training off-island and are provided with free room and board on campus. If necessary, applicants may be admitted to a non-residential program, also in Hawaii, but provided with transportation allowance.
Since the nearest job corps center is in Hawaii, students are often sent to either their Oahu or Maui campus for training.
Career training options for applicants admitted into the program include automotive repair, culinary arts, landscaping, or horticulture, among other options. The program also offers trainees the opportunity to earn a GED or a competency-based high school diploma, if necessary.
According to GDOL-GES staff and Hawaii Job Corps admission counselor Dr. Del Aquilizan, program applicants should register at the One Stop Career Center before undergoing assessment and orientation.
Since she has been assigned to the Hawaii Job Corps in 2010, they have already placed 25 trainees.
“But they do not come back to Guam unless they desire to,” Aquilizan stated. “Some of them go directly for military training or pursue their college education.”
She added: “Commitment is important. They must be committed to the training and ready to be away from home for 18 to 24 months. There are some who did not finish the 18-month program because of their performance. One of our applicants, who topped the examination, finished the program in five months. She is now back on-island, working for a hotel.”
Kevin Iekar, a high school dropout, received his high school diploma after admission to the culinary arts program in 2011. After completing requirements and interning at a Hawaii-based hotel, he is now working at the Westin Resort Guam, a month after he got back from Hawaii.
“Actually I went to GCC to get my GED. I needed another way out. I wanted to join the army but I needed my high school diploma. I saw the program, I signed, and it took me nine months to get in,” he explained.
He stated: “I’m glad I went off-island. I learned to focus on what I need to get done.”
Rosalynn Cruz, another successful graduate of the training program, will be finishing landscaping and horticulture at the top of her class, with options for continuing her education at the University of Hawaii.
Cruz highlighted the benefits of the program: “For Hawaii Job Corps, they really focus on your pace. It’s focused around you. They really look forward to helping you but you have to be open and communicate if you need help with anything. They encourage you to do more since they see your potential.”