American Samoa NEG Program’s Final Workforce Development Projects Underway

Wednesday, March 21, 2012
American Samoa Government

(UTULEI: Wednesday, March 21, 2012) –Governor Togiola Tulafono today said the final workforce development projects are underway for the U.S. Department of Labor National Emergency Grant (NEG) program under the management of the American Samoa Government (ASG) Department of Human Resources (DHR).

Governor Togiola said with the implementation of the remaining projects, the program outcomes are well within reach as the DHR NEG staff advances towards a swift ramp-up of the training and employment projects with the contact center industry and the fiber-optic cable project.

Governor Togiola expressed his gratitude for the NEG program, which has provided participants with a chance earn paycheck while learning a skill and becoming more proficient in the skills that are needed by the Territory’s workforce.

“American Samoa has been blessed with the NEG workforce development projects, and it has greatly assisted our efforts to re-employ and train our workers because of our need to have them working as soon as possible to help their respective families, and especially in maintaining and strengthening a quality workforce for the Territory, ” said Governor Togiola. “The funding of our workforce development has driven our recovery efforts for our adult and displaced workers and has provided our skilled workers with jobs which have been a big boost to the economic vitality of our island community. As we prepare to launch our contact center in Tafuna, I wish to thank U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis and the Department of Labor National Emergency Grant program for their tremendous assistance in funding our workforce development and in working with our Human Resources Director Evelyn Vaitautolu Langford and her department to make this much-needed re-employment program that has benefited our people immensely.”

The anticipated launch of the contact center industry training and employment program was attained late February with the award of the service contract to the Native Hawaiian Holding Company (NHHC) from the state of Hawaii. Prior to this award announcement, the project was stalled after approximately 14 months of a procurement and acquisition process that resulted in service contracts awarded to two other off-island companies but were subsequently withdrawn when it was determined that the companies were unable to meet the grant program match requirement based on the federal guidelines.

The ASG Office of Procurement ultimately approved a sole source request from the DHR NEG management for the NHHC service contract. The request included the justification with a full analysis of the NHHC proposal to meet the intended scope of work and the evidence of the company’s ability to meet the grant’s match requirement.

The contract award to the NHHC in the amount of $4.7 million is to provide training and employment in the contact center industry for 900 NEG participants and to operate job placement and supportive services in a One Stop Career and Training Center setting that will serve as part of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Workforce System. The future site of the OSCTC is in Tafuna that was previously occupied by the American Samoa Veteran’s Association.

The contract award to NHHC is being used solely for the participant training and support services; not for capital improvements to the facility. The OSCTC will include a newly instituted “Gold Star Veteran Services” which is a joint effort of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration and the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS), direct job placements, job skills assessments thru an existing partnership with the American Samoa Community College (ASCC), development of an Individual Service Plan, career guidance, training and job referrals, provision of educational, training and  occupational information and standard case management services.

The Fiber Optic and Copper Basics training and employment project for 20 NEG participants will be conducted thru a partnership with the American Samoa Telecommunications Authority and the Hawaii Community College through the Pacific Center for Advanced Technology Training (PCATT). The projected start date is in April and will run for 2 weeks. The PCATT instructors are certified Fiber Optic Association instructors, with the designation of CFOT (Certified Fiber Optic Technician) and CFOS/I (Certified Fiber Optic Specialist/Instructor).

The remaining administrative projects include a fiscal audit of the grant program and a program evaluation; the service contract award for the program evaluation was awarded to the Social Policy Research Associates (SPRA) earlier this month after the solicitation period ended. SPRA specializes in research, evaluation, training and capacity building. They have successfully completed multiple projects for the U.S. Department of Labor and have spent two decades studying federal, state, and local initiatives aimed at improving the efficiency of the labor market and ensuring that workers who are struggling in their careers gain the skills they need to be productive.

The other workforce development initiatives that are in progress are the American Samoa Culinary Academy with the final class of NEG participants in session, On the Job training, enrolled participants for post-secondary education at the ASCC, the Guam Center for Micronesian Empowerment training and employment program with participants who are entering their fourth week of training, the NEG Work Experience Internship Program with over 830 participants employed in the public and private sector organizations and the Key Train employment readiness assessments and Work Keys national employment certification program under a partnership with the ASCC.

The NEG program is nearing the end of the performance period in June 2012 but may possibly be extended thru the end of the calendar year. The implementation of the workforce development strategy plans with the retooling and retraining of participant skills, the creation of job opportunities thru the creation of new and emerging industries and the success of achieving the program outcomes is credited to the ongoing support from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, Region 6 in San Francisco, the exceptional technical assistance received from the University of Hawaii Pacific Business Center Program, the training service providers and the valuable employers from the public and private sector companies who have provided meaningful work experience opportunities and have retained participants in a permanent job.