The Senate had confirmed Vicky Benavente as secretary of the CNMI Department of Labor.
According to Benavente, her main priority is preparing for the 2019 expiration of the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker program as set by Public Law 110-229. She said that, through teamwork between government agencies, the CNMI workforce need not remain reliant on foreign workers in order to satisfy business needs.
“By working closely with the private business sector, through the Chamber of Commerce, Strategic Economic Development Council, and Marianas Visitors Authority membership, I believe we can develop training programs, [such as] apprenticeship, that will try to match employees with skills required by the business sector,” she said.
The Senate’s concerns such as compliance and enforcement issues would be addressed, she assured, “with the timely submission of documents by the businesses, which will help DOL put together crucial data regarding employee listing, residency status, and workforce development plans.”
Sen. Teresita Santos (R-Rota) and Sen. Justo Quitugua (Ind-Saipan) are confident in Benavente’s capability. Quitugua described her as a “committed, dedicated, and a very qualified individual.”
“I am very confident that [Benavente] would provide the right leadership; she has the tools, the experience, the knowledge, and the skills to work with people, both in [the private and public sector] to improve the department,” Quitugua said.
“I thank her for accepting a very challenging and very stressful job, but I have full confidence she [will do well],” he added.
“She already has initiatives and plans that she intends to pursue in enhancing DOL and, in particular, improving the workforce by strictly enforcing CNMI labor laws and policies,” said Santos.