BY IVA MAURIN
LOWER BASE, Saipan — The Northern Marianas Technical Institute on Sept. 27 signed agreements with the Department of Corrections and with the Northern Marianas Housing Corp., as it expanded its programs to provide opportunity for inmates and economically disadvantaged students to enroll in trades courses, particularly in construction.
Jodina Attao, interim CEO at the NMTI, told the Journal that in the past six months, the team has been working diligently to create strong partnerships with these different agencies, which resulted to the awarding of $1.16 million for the technical institute’s Construction Trades program that is estimated to serve about 100 students.
The funding is from the housing corporation’s Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery Workforce Development Training Scholarship Program. “NMTI has a newly established Financial Aid Office, as we will be the dissemination point for these scholarship opportunities. The [scholarship program] is geared toward serving low-to moderate income individuals within the most disaster impacted areas in the CNMI,” Attao said.
Aside from the scholarship program, NMTI has also been working with DOC for the past five months for inmates to participate in a 20-week pilot program for prerequisite courses on basic construction skills. Upon completion they will receive certifications and move on to other levels of specific trade programs as a cohort.
“NMTI and DOC have worked together to create a classroom at the Outreach Program facility. By certifying inmates who have already been using much trades skills that they have learned by being part of the Outreach Program, we are hoping to decrease recidivism and create a more robust correctional system,” Attao said.
For the kick-off ceremony, NMTI also collaborated with the Youth Congress. Attao said the partnership is only the beginning, as the institute will continue to meet monthly with the young legislators as they plan for more programs for the Institute.
Youth Congress Speaker Cielo Citlalli Gutierrez Long told the Journal the Youth Congress recognizes the resources NMTI provides to improve the workforce in the Marianas.
“As youth leaders, representation from the youth will always be our priority. We strongly believe that NMTI will provide the youth with more opportunities to advance in any career field they decide to pursue in the future,” she said.
Attao said representation of the youth of the NMI is important in community efforts, and their voice is important in decision-making.
The NMTI facility is located in Lower Base, Saipan. For more information on programs and curriculum, contact NMTI at (670) 235-6684. mbj