Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Filipinos get first crack at Guam’s 10,000 jobs

Max V. de Leon
Business Mirror

THE governor of Guam practically promised that Filipino workers will be among the favored workers to be hired for the estimated 10,000 jobs that will be opened with the infrastructure buildup for the transfer of the American base there from Okinawa in 2014.

Gov. Felix Camacho, in a press conference at the sidelines of the Guam Trade Mission on Tuesday at the New World Renaissance Hotel in Makati, said the Filipinos are high on the list next to the locals and those from other US territories nearby, because of their English-speaking capability, skills level and experience in working overseas.

Aside from this, Camacho said there is already a familiarity between the Philippines and Guam since Filipinos were recruited for Guam’s reconstruction after World War 2.

It has been reported that the number of jobs for the base transfer could not be filled by local labor alone, availability for which was reported to be way below that required.

“It is not exclusive but the likelihood is that most will be from the Philippines,” said Camacho.

He said Filipinos need not worry about fighting it out with Chinese workers for the military bases-related projects because for security purposes, the US government had decided the Chinese will not be included in the hiring.

Their estimate is that Guam would need up to 15,000 construction workers for various infrastructure projects valued at about $15 billion over five years, he added.

He said Guam and the nearby territories will only be able to fill in about 5,000 of the required number of workers.

David Tydingco, senior vice president of Guam-based contractor Younex, said Filipino workers will only be shelling out minimal expenses if they are recruited because the contractors will shoulder most of the costs.

He said a construction worker will earn from $12 to $25 an hour in the base construction depending on his skills.

Camacho said aside from construction, there are also opportunities in health care, especially with the federal government exempting Guam from the national quota rule for the recruitment of foreign workers. The suspension of the quota restriction for Guam will start on November 28.

Although there are career opportunities as federal workers in Guam, the construction workers will be required to go back home after their projects are completed, a provision that will be in their contracts.

Tydingco said based on their projections, all the necessary infrastructure such as the roads, expansion of the seaport and airport, utilities and power, as well as the horizontal and vertical developments, will probably take up to 2016 to complete.

Recruitment of workers, Camacho said, will start probably early next year.

Guam and the Philippines will also set up a business chamber that will facilitate prospective partnerships between their private sectors.

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