A plan by Gov. Eloy S. Inos to redirect CW fees to funding the wages of U.S. eligible workers in the private sector has prompted a howl from the Northern Marianas College yesterday, saying it needs these funds for its workforce development programs.
David J. Attao, NMC dean of administration and resource development, pointed out that the college is moving in the right direction when it comes to the use of the contract worker’s fees remitted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to the CNMI government each year.
“We are moving at full speed in our plan to use the full $500,000 as authorized in Public Law 18-18 for fiscal year 2014 (budget law). NMC continues to be appreciative that the governor and the Legislature allocated and appropriated the CW fee funds,” said Attao.
CNMI employers pay $150 in education funding fee for each foreign worker they petition for a CW status. These funds are remitted to the CNMI government, which then earmarks the money for three institutions: the Public School System, NMC, and the Northern Marianas Trade Institute.
Now the administration is considering re-allocating the collection by funding the on-the-job training of U.S eligible workers in the private section. This may result in lesser appropriation for both the college and PSS.
Attao pointed out that the college will use the CW funds to continue developing its trades and casino programs on Rota and Tinian as well as its efforts to continue to develop the tourism and hospitality program on Saipan. The funds will also be used, he said, to pay for critical costs associated with administering the college’s vocational and technical programs such as nursing, education, business, apprenticeship and workforce development.
“We will adhere to the CNMI government’s commitment and authorization as stipulated in Public Law 18-18. An educated citizenry, and by extension an educated workforce, have to be prioritized, otherwise the Commonwealth will continue to be dependent on foreign workers,” Attao told Saipan Tribune. “Education, training, and job placement go hand in hand.”
Since the repeated suspension of funding for the college’s apprenticeship program, coupled with inadequate funding for its operation, the allocation of CW fees to NMC is a big help, Attao said.
“With the limited funds NMC receives for the past seven years, not to mention the suspension of funding for vocational and technical programs and apprenticeship program during the same time period, we continue to strive to be the economic engine of the CNMI and to provide quality programs that prepare individuals for meaningful careers that pay above minimum wage,” Attao said. “We have seen that our graduates from the School of Education, the NMC nursing program, and in most cases our business graduates earn a minimum of at least $11 or more at entry level.”
Apart from the ongoing initiatives that aim to boost the workforce development programs at the college, Attao said that NMC also continues to design curriculum to build more entrepreneurs who will benefit off of income, wages, and salaries they earn themselves.
NMC president Dr. Sharon Hart also said yesterday that the college is in the process of developing a four-year degree in business—as contract workers are the largest holders of bachelor’s degrees in business.
“Providing graduates in this particular field can help to further grow and expand business ventures/opportunities for the CNMI,” said Hart.