Training opportunities exist in the Northern Mariana Islands.

In 2019 the NMI Department of Labor announced an apprenticeship program that could cater to those interested to enter the hospitality industry, which at the time was in need of such a program to help improve employment opportunities for U.S. citizens in the NMI.  

There are other great training opportunities through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act.

Groups such as the Northern Marianas Technical Institute and Latte Training Academy also offer training, but the pandemic has delayed federal grants and other funding and subsequently no scheduling of classes to date.

The CNMI Office of Vocational Rehabilitation provides skills training and job placement for their special-needs participants.

Businesses should make it a point to work with the Department of Labor and these other entities to find a program that will help them develop their workforce or to hire motivated new staff. Some of these programs pay for full or partial salaries while the individual is been trained.

Island Training Solutions is in the business of training and development. 

Up until March, we had a great mix of business and government clients. We had focused on the hospitality and tourism sector and have provided skills training for restaurants and resorts — everything from customer service excellence and waiter/waitress training to supervisory and management skills development series.

 Successful businesses in this sector understand the need for staff training and refreshers. They understand it helps with morale and motivation to meet or exceed the expectations of our guests. The government sectors also see the benefit of personal development training for staff. We have worked with many government agencies to help better train their staff to provide better customer service, teamwork and be safer at work.

Now we are seeing some larger entities wanting out-placement services for their employees. Currently we can only assist with refreshing success skills, updating resumes and practicing interviewing. Opportunities to set up interviews for potential placement are pretty much nonexistent, but we are confident when the economy opens up in the future those employees will be well prepared.    

There are steps you can take to prepare yourself and your employees for the return of our economy.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second-best time is now.” 

Whether your business needs welders or waiters, carpenters or cooks — invest in your staff to lay the groundwork the “new normal” requires. Each business and industry’s” new normal” will be different; successful businesses will take action to prepare for what the future provides them. Taking on partnerships with training organizations and DOL are key to tapping into the labor market. Have those entities look out for people with the skills and talent your business is looking for — Plant Now.

When speaking to displaced workers, one of the first questions I ask is, “What have you done with your extra free time during COVID 19?” 

No doubt, 70% or more indicate, “Watching more TV or not doing much.” Others cite reading, gardening, baking and golfing. Some of those activities are more productive than others. My belief is that people must allocate time and invest in themself professionally.  There are training classes and development classes online from entry level skills such as customer service and attitude to management level skills in leadership, emotional intelligence etc. These “go at your own pace” classes are perfect for our uncertain and fluid world and these classes can re-start motivation for your future success — Plant Now.

I believe great business owners know their success lies in their staff’s hands. The new pressures and challenges businesses are facing daily are just as high for those who work for us. The stresses of less family income, an uncertain future and keeping the family safe take its toll on staff.  Business leaders must have some increased sensitivities toward this reality. We must do what we can to communicate, motivate and train our staff so they can handle things today and be ready for customers — Plant Now.

It is all about being prepared. The last thing a business wants is the government allowing you to open or increase capacity and the business and staff are not ready. Businesses cannot afford having a single customer come back to unprepared, unmotivated staff. Customer patience and tolerance will be short; for a business to attract and keep customers during this pandemic, staff need to be working at a high service level to make that happen — Plant Now.

Currently, Island Training Solutions has a “get back in business” program that includes three half-day sessions on customers service excellence, emotional intelligence and time management at a special rate or some businesses choose one topic, according to their needs.

Economies will gradually improve over the next year or two.

No one truly knows when and what an economy will look like, but it will come back. 

Businesses can look at and attract available talent that is in the job market right now — and also look at career development inside their companies. These are two great ways to “stack up” your team now for the future.

There is a future for those who want skills training and those looking for skilled employees.  

In the NMI there are funds from the CW-1 fees that support training of local/U.S. eligible workers. In the past these funds have been successfully used to help folks get the motivation, skills and certifications to begin and advance a career. It is just a matter of when funding will be available. Rightfully so, focus has been placed on PUA-type programs to make sure those who need assistance now can get it. But gradually we will see more training opportunities for those who want to use this time to invest in themselves with the prospect of a more promising future. mbj


— James T. Arenovski is the president of Island Training Solutions. He can be reached at [email protected].