Guam – 164 unemployed and underemployed soldiers started their first day of classes this morning as the Guam Community College launches its Keep Your Guard Up Training Program.
The Governor’s Office, GCC, and Guam’s Business Community formulated a 90-day industry certification program in 8 areas including Supervision and Management, Automotive Technician and Computer Networking.
NUMBERS FROM TODAY’S LAUNCH OF GCC KEEP YOUR GUARD UP:
TOTAL = 164 UNEMPLOYED AND UNDEREMPLOYED SOLDIERS
A+ COMPUTER NETWORKING – 43
AUTOMOTIVE GENERAL SERVICE TECHNICIAN – 15
EMERGENCY MEDICAL TECHNICIAN – 14
ELECTRICIAN – 16
HVAC – 18
HEAVY EQUIPMENT – 9
SUPERVISION MANAGEMENT – 37
WELDING – 12
GCC Continuing Education and Workforce Development Assistant Director Victor Rodgers said this program will not only help soldiers find jobs, but provide them the skills and specialized training to start a career. Rodgers said as a veteran himself, he is proud to be a part of this program as it is the only kind nationwide.
He said, “Once they completed the training, it’ll allow them to be competitive at that field. For example, automotive. They’re going to take 30 credits of automotive training in 90 days. After that, they’re going to be in a great position to start a career in the automotive field because they’ll be in the same position as someone with a year of training. So that’s really been the thought process behind this…is to get credentials and certification to allow them to compete because that’s one of the issues.”
Rodgers said that after the soldiers complete their training, the program aims to have them hired right away. So far, about 24 employers have contacted GCC with job openings. For any interested employers that want to be a part of the Keep Your Guard Up Program, contact 735-5646.
[Full house: 164 soldiers from the Guam Army National Guard attend the launch of GCC’s Keep Your Guard Up training program. The soldiers are enrolled in one of eight GCC certificate programs specially designed to provide them with the education and skills needed to land sustainable jobs.]
READ the release from GCC below:
164 soldiers start classes at GCC
Sgt. Jesse Bagoyo described his job as a convoy commander on deployment in Afghanistan in 2013 as “a lot of high tension.” He transported VIPs to different areas in and around the U.S. base there, doing his best to avoid the insurgent’s land mines that have killed or injured so many. Now, he’s home and unemployed. But hopefully not for long. Bagoyo is one of 164 unemployed or under-employed returning Guam veterans taking advantage of the Guam Community College “Keep Your Guard Up” training program.
Keep Your Guard Up is the only program of its kind in the United States. A collaborative brainchild of GCC, the administration of Gov. Eddie Calvo and island business leaders, it was put together when Guam National Guard Adjutant General Benny Paulino informed Guam’s leaders that of the 588 men and women of the I-294th Infantry Regiment deployed to Afghanistan last year, a full 260 of them would be returning home in January either unemployed or under-employed.
This morning, Bagoyo and 163 other soldiers started classes at GCC to earn a certificate in one of eight programs the College put together for the returning vets.
“This will be easy,” said Bagoyo, when asked to compare going to school to performing his mission in Afghanistan.
“We had to do something for these soldiers,” said Victor Rodgers, GCC Asst. Director of Continuing Education and Workforce Development. “Our mission is workforce development. These men and women have served their country honorably and done Guam proud. Nowhere else in the country are they more patriotic,” Rodgers said, referring to the fact that Guam and Micronesia have the highest enlistment rate, and unfortunately the highest casualty rate, per capita, of anywhere else in the country.
While the soldiers were still in country, GCC surveyed them and formulated a 90-day industry certification program in eight areas: automotive general service technician; A+ computer networking; electrical; emergency medical technician; heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), supervision and management, heavy equipment/truck driving, and welding.