Fernandez calls for business sector's input on career readiness programs

PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP: Jon Fernandez, superintendent for the Guam Department of Education, was the main speaker at the Guam Chamber of Commerce general membership meeting at the Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort on Wednesday. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

Guam Department of Education Superintendent Jon Fernandez is reaching out to the business community.

Fernandez, who was the guest speaker at the Guam Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday at the Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort, said between GDOE, Guam Community College, and GCA Trades Academy – and with some input from the business community – GDOE has been able to create programs that prepare students for the work place or provide them a foundation in specific fields where there’s a need.

The superintendent took a few minutes to laud the education department’s achievements, including increasing the graduation rate to exceed the 80% goal. But his focus and repeated request to the business representatives at the luncheon was for their representation in the education – to create programs that builds successful students who in turn are prepared with the skills to join the workforce and help build a company’s success.

“Career readiness is a high priority in GDOE’s state strategic plan,” he said.

One example of a newer program aimed at meeting a community need is the telecommunications certificate program that started last school year at Tiyan High School in partnership with GCC.

Another recent program is the Construction Craft Laborer Levels 1 and 2, that is managed in partnership with GCA Trades Academy. Fernandez said for some students, the program has sparked a new interest and excitement in their education.

“Sen. (James) Moylan also asked us to think of law enforcement as a track in schools,” Fernandez said. “Dr. Okada recently launched a four-year baccalaureate program to help us address our teacher shortage by creating a program for (Career Technical Education) teachers … There may be other tracks or other programs out there that we should be considering.”

He said they’re considering different models of high school education, such as turning each school into a career academy that focuses on a specific career or related fields.

"We really need you in the day to day discussion … and I think you need us to figure out a way to produce the employees that you want to see in the workplace,” Fernandez said.

“Just in the last conversation at Tiyan High School, I went to several sessions where some of you were volunteers and a lot of the focus was on soft skills. Nobody mentioned math and science, they said: ‘Can you please have them show up for work on time and dress appropriately.’ … You know that’s what we need our teachers to hear and for our students to hear and have someone out in the workplace to deliver it.”

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