Since 2014, 77 percent of Northern Marianas Trades Institute students have been able to find jobs, according to Ross Manglona, NMTI’s Continuing Education & Apprenticeship director.
Speaking at last March 7’s Chamber of Commerce membership meeting at the Pacific Islands Club Saipan, Manglona said that out of the school’s 223 students since 2014, a total of 172 have now been employed.
“How do we measure our success? It’s how many of our students get employed. Out of 223 students, 172 have been placed. That’s a 77-percent success rate among graduates,” he said.
That 77 percent could’ve been higher if some of the students who get hired actually graduate from NMTI.
“…it is skewed a bit because some of them didn’t finish and now work as security guards and groundskeepers,” Manglona said.
He said the pending expiration of the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker program has accelerated the need for institutions like NMTI to train more locals and U.S.-eligible workers to enter the workforce.
“Why is [the Saipan Higher Education Financial Assistance program] entertaining us now? It’s because push has come to shove. We’re in a dire situation and we need everybody’s help. We need the entire community’s help. We need the Latte Training Academy to do its thing. We need NMTI and we need [the Northern Marianas College]. It’s a concerted effort and we need everybody on this,” said Manglona.
NMTI data show that 68 percent of 1,076 jobs in the culinary field are currently occupied by CW workers, 55 percent of 870 jobs in the hotel and restaurant field are filled by CW workers, 65 percent of 463 maintenance and repair jobs are held by CW workers, 95 percent of 437 carpenters and woodworkers are CW workers, 94 percent of 328 cement masons and concrete finishers are CW workers, 73 percent of 240 auto technician jobs are held by CW workers, 77 percent of 240 electricians and power generation jobs are CW workers, 95 percent of 112 welders, cutters, etc. jobs are held by CWs, 84 percent of 103 HVAC jobs are held by CWs, and 63 percent of 100 plumbers are CW workers.
With the CW program’s window nearly closing, Manglona said that, more than ever, NMTI graduates are in high demand in the CNMI.
“A lot of our students that finished our courses are now going in a bidding war. This community has raised the wages of our students who finished our culinary program, for example,” he said.
SHEFA director Raymond Muna agrees and said the program supports NMTI and other organizations developing the local workforce because of the pending expiration of the CW program.
“We don’t know the future of the CNMI’s access to foreign workers,” he said.
Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands chair Gloria Cavanagh applauded NMTI’s recent success and said it’s a model that should be emulated by other skills training and trades institutions on island.
“Now that students from NMTI are eligible for these [SHEFA] funds, I would like to see more go to a more successful program that places 77 percent of its graduates [into jobs],” she told Saipan Tribune.
Chamber president Velma Palacios said NMTI’s resurrection from just having 12-15 students in 2014 to now having close to 600 students is nothing short of phenomenal.
“This is a very positive and promising number. I hope it continues to increase to 100 percent job placement for all NMTI graduates in their field of study. NMTI should continue to stay on course offering the vocational classes, which are needed by the business community. The Chamber encourages its members to hire U.S.-eligible workers. Most of our members work with NMTI and Latte Training Academy to help with their workforce needs. The Chamber will continue to work with these training organizations as we have to build our local workforce capacity to sustain our economy,” she said in an email to Saipan Tribune.