Along with you I ponder daily what we can do to restore our economy. After much research I have learned that one of the most effective ways to restore prosperity and harmony in any community is to create work for its citizens. When people are happily working and earning money, there is little time for complaining. Research the states with high unemployment rates and other countries around the world struggling to survive. Behind each of their problems is the high rate of unemployment which is causing much turmoil.
People need work to buy daily necessities and to feel personally needed. Idle hands cause most of our problems whether it involves youth or senior citizens. Work is vital to a steady growth and to a stable community.
Why are we not seriously considering this important issue on how to solve it instead of pursuing parasitic enterprises as casino gambling and keeping a large nonresident work force while creating a high employment rate among our local citizens? Consequently these unemployed local citizens line up for ever-increasing food stamp assistance or leave the islands in search of jobs. Notice the steadily increasing petty crime rate that can be attributed to non-employment. How many employed people commit these crimes?
So many young people are graduating from colleges and are finding little prospects for work. Why should they return home? A high unemployment rate will destroy any economy. Where do we in the CNMI stand on this issue?
Why do we still insist that we need thousands of nonresident workers while thousands of our citizens line up for food stamps? Why can’t we understand that outside investors cannot restore our economy? This can only be done when a majority of our people are gainfully employed. Money earned must stay here and circulate here. People working are happy people. We cannot afford imported labor any longer. We must do our own work including skilled trades. For a starter, why aren’t our people working alongside the non-resident workers? It appears to be an exclusive club. There is a law that states that all government contract must have at least 30 percent local work force. Hmn, do we see this happening as we drive around the island past various projects? Why isn’t this law enforced?
The Northern Marianas Trades Institute, located in Lower Base, is one institute that is trying to correct this problem. Its ultimate goal is to train local citizens to become skilled and educated workers. Local individuals, both male and female, are invited to be trained to fill jobs that in the past have been filled by non-resident workers. In a few years we will need thousands of trained local personnel to handle almost any work. The CNMI has more of a potential local labor force than anyone has counted. Consider the over 11,000 food stamp recipients. How many of them are capable of working or even want to work?
There still remains a mindset among many employers that must be overcome in that they prefer hiring non-resident workers. Despite this, some employers are beginning to hire NMTI’s students. These employers are realizing that our students are capable and motivated workers. All of these young men and women are the promise of a skilled local workforce capable of performing well in the workplace.
When you visit the institute you will see five classrooms totally constructed by the students. All the framing, trim work, ceiling, walling, painting and lighting was done by the students. In fact, all the improvements in the institute since it started have been done by the students. NMTI stresses hands—on–training.
At the institute students are taught the three H’s. The first H is for the head in which students develop attitudes. A student learns to develop a positive attitude towards his work, his fellow workers, his employer and himself. Without a positive attitude, the student will never become a good craftsman.
The second H stands for the heart. From the heart the student learns work ethics and moral responsibility. He learns to respect himself, his fellow workers, his employer and customer. He realizes that he must be at work on time and be responsible. Without a good work ethic, he will never be a good craftsman with pride.
The third H stands for hands. With his hands and tools, the student creates things inspired by the head and heart. Until he understands that he must combine the Head, the Heart with the Hands, he will remain only a mediocre worker and never a craftsman. Thus by learning the three H’s the student becomes a valuable asset to himself and to his community.
All local citizens are welcomed as students from the age of 16 to 86, male or female. Student financial aid may be available for needy students. The only requirement is a strong desire to learn a skill. In addition, NMTI will assist finding the student a job while he is learning a trade. Thus in a few weeks the student will be gainfully employed. Many of NMTI’s students have found jobs at CUC, the Hyatt, and many other places of employment while studying.
NMTI is blessed to have a man as Vic Cepeda as the Education Director. Many may remember him as the former principal of Marianas High School. Vic is totally dedicated and enthusiastic about improving the work habits of all the students. He is constantly counseling them. You will see him at PTA meetings encouraging parents to send their sons and daughters to NMTI. As he constantly reminds me: “This is our island. We must train our local people.”
NMTI has staff members who are dedicated to helping students fulfill their dreams in the workplace. All instructors who share their skill and work experience with the students are certified by the Center for Construction and Education Research. In addition WIA under the direction of Edith Deleon Guerrero has been a great supporter of NMTI by offering grants to qualified students. All of these people realize the importance of the institute’s mission.
NMTI is certified by the National Center for Construction and Education Research Institute (NCCER) which is affiliated with the University of Florida, Construction Department. Also during the past two years NMTI has received two grants. One is from the Department of Labor and the other is from the Department of Commerce to help the non-profit NMTI. Two other major contributors have been the First Hawaiian
Bank and Tan Holdings.
There is no better way for anyone seeking to better himself than by visiting NMTI to find out how it can help. Our non-resident work force is slowly being made to leave. Let us prepare ourselves for the change. None of us are too old to begin a new career especially in a vocational trade. There is no such animal as “retirement.”
There is much more to explain, however I invite you to visit NMTI and meet some of the students. Please talk to them about their training. The students’ reactions are the real test of the quality of training and pride that is being instilled in them.
With your continuing support, the CNMI can have its own skilled labor force and be less dependent on outside labor in a few short years. The institute is eligible for educational tax credits of up to $5,000.00. Your contribution will help greatly. Please consider offering it to NMTI.
Please visit NMTI soon and meet some of the students. Or maybe become one yourself and find a new career. At least recommend NMTI to your children and friends. Also when in need of trained and motivated employees for building or repair work, please call 235-6684 for further information.
The sooner we replace our over 11,000 nonresident workers with our own citizens, the sooner our prosperity will return. Success will come only when we do the work to be done with our own two hands. We have more potential workers than we realize and a sure road to prosperity. A nation at work is a prosperous and a happy one.
It’s not too late to rediscover yourself. Visit us at the Northern Marianas Trade Institute or call 235-6684. And don’t forget to SMILE as you walk in.
****[I]Pellegrino is a longtime businessman in the CNMI and is the former president of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce.[/I]