GDOL advises unemployed to retrain or ‘upskill’ before benefits end in December

Guam Department of Labor Director David Dell'Isola (PNC file photo)

With a looming deadline for federal unemployment benefits, the Guam Department of Labor says it’s shifting its focus to the retraining and upskilling of out-of-work residents.

Department of Labor Director David Dell’Isola said there are really two options that people should be thinking about: upskilling and retraining into a new in-demand occupation.

He says December is not that far away and that’s when the current PUA benefits are scheduled to end for thousands of out-of-work residents.

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He says GDOL is now awaiting additional money for the Dislocated Worker Grant and will partner with UOG, GCC, and all their training service partners to get people back to work.

“We know that the hotels are going to take a while before they bounce back. And when they do bounce back, they’re going to need the employees who are Jacks-of-all-Trade and who have 2 or 3 skills to be able to do multiple jobs before everything kind of returns to normal,” Dell’Isola said.

He said the two routes are either upskilling one’s self to become more valuable to the employer.

“The one that can do 5 jobs are the ones that are going to be the ones that come back first,” Dell’Isola said.

The other route is to retrain altogether to get into more in-demand industries.

“Nursing assistants (CNAs), coding, billing, construction, ship repairs…all the trades with the trades academy and working together with GCA. Truck driving, you have no idea, we’re going to need 400 truck drivers on the road at any given time during this buildup. They need to have these people to run the heavy equipment…the dump trucks, cement trucks, all these trucks,” Dell’Isola said.

He added GDOL should be hearing soon on how much USDOL will award them to support the programming. He says they’ve requested $12 million.

As for the Dislocated Worker money the department has already received, GDOL is using that to hire 200, 6-month contract positions to help with the COVID-19 recovery effort.

“The last talks we had with them (USDOL), they were very impressed with what we’re doing with the recovery program. We have over 150 employees distributed out to the hospitals, the mayors, the food distribution, and to Public Health doing contact tracing,” Dell’Isola said.

Dell’Isola says they received many applications for those positions, with many residents saying they’re aware the PUA deadline is coming up and they don’t want to be stuck with no income at all.