BY IVA MAURIN
LOWER BASE, Saipan — With the anticipated radical reduction of foreign workforce in the NMI in less than a decade, the Northern Marianas Technical Institute is reopening, offering 12 courses this coming Fall Semester to train the local community, including permanent residents.
Jodina Attao, interim CEO at the institute, told the Journal U.S. immigration policies will lead to a drastically reduced number of available foreign workers in the NMI by 2029, and as such, workforce development is a huge component of the institute as the deadline of sustaining the island’s own workforce approaches.
In 2009, the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 established federal control of the CNMI immigration with the Department of Homeland Security implementing a CNMI-specific foreign worker permit program. Initially set to expire in December 2019, the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker (CW-1) was extended for an additional 10 years to the end of 2029, through the Northern Mariana Islands U.S. Workforce Act of 2018.
“It is critical to establish a well-coordinated and comprehensive curriculum for training of the local workforce and permanent residents to ensure that we have an adequate pool of competent employees in the trades arena,” Attao said.
“The Northern Marianas Technical Institute has been transitioned from a non-profit organization to an autonomous public corporation as a government entity. The technical school provides a comprehensive, competency-based workforce development system for crafts, safety, and management professionals in the construction and maintenance industries.”
Come August, courses that NMTI will offer include Construction Technology; Construction Craft Laborer; Carpentry; Masonry; Welding; Electronic Systems Technician; Electrical; Plumbing; Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning (HVAC); Power Generation Maintenance – Electrician I Mechanics Automotive Technology; Hotel and Restaurant Operations; and Culinary Arts.
NMTI has a standing Memorandum of Agreement with Tang’s Corp., a construction company that has been assisting the institute’s apprenticeship programs, Attao said.
“Along with Tang’s, we have been able to engage in collaborative efforts with the Department of Labor, the Public School System, the Northern Marianas College, policy makers, and other stakeholders as we create the systematic infrastructure to fill our pipelines with apprentices and raise awareness with industry partners to engage and partake in this meaningful project,” she said.
NMTI is also anticipating expanding its apprenticeship programs to the Commonwealth Healthcare Center and other interested employers in the NMI.
The NMTI is an Accredited Training Unit with the National Center for Construction Education and Research, a nationally recognized certificate program that has standardized training and credentialing programs for the industry, Attao said.
These credentials are monitored through the NCCER Registry System, which allows organizations and companies to track the qualifications of professionals and checks the qualifications of possible new hires, she said.
“The NMTI team embraces diversity and welcomes the CNMI community to take part in the opportunities offered to become a skilled, productive member of our local workforce,” Attao stressed.
“Because interests vary person to person, NMTI is able to provide an opportunity for individuals to go into career pathways that include technical and trades qualifications. Outside of the traditional college and university experiences, NMTI offers career-based certifications that cater to individuals with a hands-on approach.”
“Through a balanced curriculum that includes classroom instruction and on-the-job training partnered with various CNMI industries, a favorable opportunity for students to secure a job by the end of their apprenticeship is obtainable,” Attao said.
NMTI is open for enrollment and is taking student registration applications for the opening of semester-based classes in August 2021, at its facility located in Lower Base, Saipan. For more information, visit www.nmticnmi.org, or contact NMTI at (670) 235-6684. mbj