Thursday, February 11, 2010

Guam prepares for increase in construction

Guam prepares for increase in construction

Posted: Feb 07, 2010 12:20 PM
Updated: Feb 07, 2010 2:54 PM

by Michele Catahay

Guam - While Governor Felix Camacho has requested for the Department of Defense to extend the buildup altogether, the Department of Labor and the Guam Contractors Association are working diligently to ensure the workforce is prepared. DOL Director Maria Connelly says while the governor has the desire to extend the buildup past 2014, she says the work will still be there but more time will be given to plan.

"We have been preparing ourselves even prior to the buildup. When I say 'preparing ourselves', it's really engaging and getting the federal officials and the local government officials and all the stakeholders involved because this isn't only the Department of Labor's responsibility, it is all our responsibility," she said.

For the last five years, DOL has been looking at its internal systems and building relationships with federal officials. To prepare for the buildup, Connelly says her agency has been offering annual workshops for employers and bringing in experts from the mainland to provide capacity building and discuss the laws. In addition, she says DOLA has been working with the Department of Education and the Guam Community College when it comes to encouraging individuals to take up apprenticeship programs.

"All those are evolving and as we continue to train our local people at the same time we also continue to make sure the processes are in place for employers to have assisted them with these temporary foreign hires to ensure those are in place," she said.

The Department of Labor is also tasked with working on compliance and accounting for and monitoring activity while workers are here.

In the meantime, Guam Contractors Association President James Martinez says they remain prepared for the buildup even if it happens in 2014. "We'll probably say that a little more time would be helpful but I think we've had ample time on the contractors side to prepare themselves for this buildup. We're already anxious to begin this buildup. I don't know what additional preparation could be put in place as a result of this delay, but I think for the most part, a lot of our contractors have all their ducks lined up, so to speak," he said.

Martinez says the GCA has been partnering with large construction companies from the mainland to help with projects outside the military bases. He said, "They may have the financial backing and the bonding capacity for some of these larger projects, but they're going to depend on our local companies for subcontracting work who have the local expertise who know how to deal with businesses here on Guam. It's a little different than doing business in the states then out in the middle of the Western Pacific, we have some logistical issues with shipping."

Martinez says the GCA offers safety trainings to prepare contractors for the massive buildup. In the meantime, he says he hopes construction work will continue beyond 2014.

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