One of the biggest problems developing countries face is brain drain where young people opt to pursue education and careers off island and end up staying there permanently.
Executive Director of the American Samoa Power Authority Utu Abe Malae has tried to address this problem by re-establishing ASPA’s apprenticeship program which is essentially a scholarship program for young professionals in technical fields,
The apprenticeship program was cancelled in 2006 and remained dormant for 7 years until Utu Abe Malae returned to ASPA and resurected it 2 years ago.
Now, a total of 7 young aspiring professionals are schooling in Manukau, New Zealand where they are engaged in a rigorous 2 year program that schools them in both practical hands-on work and theory.
With funding from the Department of Interior, ASPA provides the students an allowance which covers tuition and living expenses in New Zealand.
The students are housed in a student village while at Manukau and are expected to do well or face paying back any and all expenses spent on them if they flunk out.
Upon completion of the program, the students are to return to American Samoa to serve what is essentially a bond or a non-compete contract where they work for ASPA for 3 years.
ASPA Customer Service Manager Ryan Tuato’o explains.