Over 70 students participated in last Wednesday’s Saipan Chamber of Commerce Career Exploration Day. The students, coming from all high schools throughout Saipan, were paired with over 30 Chamber member-businesses and were exposed to hands-on experience similar to the traditional job shadowing process.
Later that day, the students were recognized by the Chamber during its general membership meeting at the Saipan World Resort’s Royal Taga Hall, during which both Labor Secretary Vicky Benavente and Northern Marianas Trades Institute CEO Agnes McPhetres spoke about the event’s importance.
Benavente focused on the importance of getting these students into the workforce quickly and effectively before the CNMI’s foreign worker program, called the CW program, expires in 2029, as mandated by law.
She said that the uncertainty of the CW program’s ending gave businesses in the CNMI a major scare, since majority of employees were under the CW program and the extension gave more time for the CNMI to invest in its youth to get them into the workforce.
“Working with the trades industry is DOL’s current priorities since the trades industry is the most requested workforce in the CNMI,” Benavente said. She added that the end of October 2019 saw over 11,000 job vacancy announcements posted on the DOL website.
McPhetres, on the other hand, said students should be open to the idea of investing in the trades industry, since college is not the only option available to them.
McPhetres said NMTI has been working closely with CNMI DOL through the Apprenticeship Program, which allows students to work as apprentices in the trades industry to prepare them with the proper certification as soon as they complete an apprenticeship program.
She said NMTI has been working with PSS on the hotel and restaurant trades program, as she mentioned that NMTI and Da’Ok Academy are currently holding classes with one another. Da’Ok Academy is currently stationed at the NMTI campus in Lower Base.
Shortly after the Chamber meeting, the participants were exposed to workshops on how to go through job interviews, how to save for the future, and other presentations that will help them once they graduate high school.