Senator touts apprenticeship program bill

Senator Regine Biscoe-Lee, a Democrat, is chairperson of the Committee on Federal and Foreign Affairs. She says she hopes the next Congressman addresses Guam's relationship with the military, environmental issues and the island's political status. (PNC file photo)

A successful program that provides wage-raising education must not end, Senator Régine Biscoe Lee stressed while discussing her Bill No. 128-35 (LS) during session Monday.

The measure extends support for the Guam Registered Apprenticeship Program for an additional five years, modernizes the administration of the law, and provides for a sustainable funding source.

“Since its inception, this public-private partnership has resulted in many workers gaining valuable skills and earning more money for their families,” said Senator Lee said in a release. “We have an opportunity to expand a homegrown skilled workforce, help more people find good careers, and help more companies invest in employees who show promise.”

In effect since 2006, the law partners up the government with local businesses to provide up to four years of specialized training in some of the island’s most needed careers. Companies pay for professional development upfront, and in exchange receive a tax credit valued at half of approved costs.

According to Sen. Lee, her bill modernizes this program in several ways:

* Updates references to federal agencies and standards, ensuring sustained synergy between Guam and D.C.;

* Adds new eligible jobs and careers for subsidized training, including: digital marketers, sound and light technicians, legal secretaries, and agricultural service workers; and

* Earmarks revenue from a processing fee to ensure efficiency in apprenticeship activities and programs at the Guam Department of Labor.

Originally, Sen. Lee said the statute was enacted through a bipartisan group of lawmakers and members of the 35th Legislature from both sides of the aisle have voiced support for the extension.

In addition, the senator said companies like GTA, Docomo Pacific, Guam Shipyard, and Cabras Marine Corporation; government stakeholders like GPA and the Workforce Development Board; and civic organizations like the Women’s Chamber of Commerce and the Contractors Association have also backed the measure.

As a way to contain revenue offset by the GRAP tax credit, the bill provides that:

* Companies already issued a Qualifying Certificate will remain ineligible to participate;

* Credits cannot be claimed for training costs more than three (3) years old;

* Training costs paid by the local or federal government continue to be ineligible to be claimed for tax credits; and

* Tax credits can only be carried forward into other years as allowed by existing procedures of the Department of Revenue and Taxation.