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    Sunday, December 8, 2019-1:17:56A.M.






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NMI officials, business leaders discuss workforce-development strategies

BUSINESS leaders, government and education officials discussed workforce-development strategies to prepare U.S. qualified workers for positions vacated by guest workers when the federalization transition period ends on Dec. 31, 2014.

Northern Marianas College President Sharon Y. Hart said NMC hosted the meeting that included representatives from the Department of Labor, the Department of Commerce, the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, the Public School System, the Northern Marianas Technical Institute and the college.

“The information presented by the Department of Labor helped guide our discussions about what strategies to employ to build and develop the CNMI’s workforce,” Hart said.

At the meeting Labor Secretary Edith Deleon Guerrero presented United States Citizenship and Immigration Services data which showed the jobs or occupations currently filled by guest workers.

These positions included those of accountants, culinary personnel, tourism and hospitality-related jobs, managerial and executive level positions.

“It was also very helpful to hear from Saipan Chamber of Commerce President Alex Sablan who provided additional insights beyond the numbers and figures presented,” Hart told Variety in a statement.

She said the college is working with stakeholders, including those agencies represented at the meeting, to see how the institution can play a role in workforce development.

“While it is extremely important to look at current market needs, it is equally critical that we look at developing new market segments that can be sustained over a long period of time,” she added.

She said they should work together to see how they can move the economy in the right direction, adding that there’s a need for them to identify the gaps and see how each of them can leverage their resources to fill them.

NMC’s dean of administration and resource development, David J. Attao, said the college, the Public School System and the Northern Marianas Technical Institute have agreed to meet on a regular basis to identify key workforce weaknesses, and work toward developing and implementing the needed programs in the community.

“A big issue facing our community are the availability of jobs and careers that will provide meaningful wages/salaries for the graduates and finishers of our programs,” he said.

He said the cost of doing business in the CNMI is much higher now than in the past so there is a need to bring in new businesses and industries that pay higher salaries.

The other participants in the meeting were Department of Commerce Secretary Sixto Igisomar, NMTI board member John Gonzales, NMTI director Vic Cepeda, Department of Commerce staff member Tom Torres, NMC Dean of Academic Programs and Services Barbara Merfalen, PSS manager Dr. Alfred Ada; DOL acting Director of Employment Services Evelyn Sablan, DOL certification technician Yvonne Taisacan and DOL labor certification supervisor James Ulloa.