The 2021 cohort of the Pacific Century Fellows-Marianas Chapter recognized now more than ever the critical role that the Northern Marianas College, CNMI Public School System, and Northern Marianas Technical Institute play in education and workforce development in the Marianas.
Ten members of the PCF Class of 2021 visited the three institutions last Oct. 21 and talked to their respective officials as part of the group’s Leadership Series Session 6: Education and Workforce Development. Lengthy discussions took place, giving the cohort more information about the programs that NMC, PSS, and NMTI are offering and the challenges the three institutions are facing and how they are navigating their way through these obstacles, especially when the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
“NMC has been resilient through hardship and challenges that they have faced through Super Typhoon Yutu and the COVID-19 pandemic. They did not give up on the CNMI community. The NMC Team developed efficient solutions to prevent a halt in classes and services for their students across the CNMI,” said Lee Tenorio as the class met with NMC president Dr. Galvin Deleon Guerrero, vice president Frankie Eliptico and dean of Learning and Student Success Charlotte Cepeda.
Deleon Guerrero noted that NMC is one of the few educational institutions in the U.S. to immediately implement virtual platform learning in the middle of the pandemic. Eliptico, on the other hand, mentioned the proposed features of the new campus that NMC is building to better serve students in the CNMI.
“NMC took these turns of unfortunate events (typhoon and pandemic) and shifted it into an opportunity to plan a more fruitful future for the institution as a whole,” said Tenorio.
Class member Ana Mendiola acknowledged PSS leaders for recognizing the needs of the students and their learning styles in the changing times.
“Our leaders have worked diligently in developing a comprehensive Career Pathways program, which falls under the Career and Technical Education program. It is designed to have a great impact on each student’s future as they embark on their own individual paths of success and readiness, whether they chose to be college-bound or dive straight into the workforce, after graduating from high school,” said Mendiola as the cohort talked to PSS officials led by acting Education commissioner Eric Magofna.
Mendiola, a counselor at Saipan Southern High School, added that PSS through its Cooperative Education and Cooperative Training classes, has a structured method of combining classroom-based education with the opportunity to gain practical work experience, preparing students in their journey toward continued education and/or in entering the workforce.
Skilled, sustainable workforce
The 2021 cohort concluded the leadership series session with a tour at the NMTI main campus in Lower Navy Hill and was impressed with the improvements of its facilities.
NMTI temporarily closed last year due to the pandemic and in March this year before reopening in August, as it transitioned from a trades institute into a government institution. The transition period, according NMTI chief executive officer Jodina Attao, allowed them to restructure and strengthen their program offerings and partner with other government agencies to serve more people.
Class of 2021 member John Saludez, who is the managing director for the construction company HBR International, Inc. said the recent developments at the NMTI will definitely help the different industries in the Marianas.
“NMTI plays a huge part in the workforce development on the islands, especially in the construction industry. Graduates from the NMTI will help address the shortage in skilled workers and prepare us for the next three to four years when the local construction industry starts mobilizing the millions of dollars of infrastructure projects,” Saludez said.
He added that skilled workers certified by NMTI will continuously help local construction companies in providing safe and quality infrastructures for the community and will also be useful to other industries that contribute to the growth of the CNMI economy. (PR)