Point of clarification


I’m not known for writing letters to the editor, nor would I dignify customary hearsay with a response. I am writing this letter, however, to clear up some of the misinformation recently published by an online blogger calling themselves “Imjustsaying” on the Marianas Variety’s Jan. 17 publication, titled “NMC, NMTI, LTA receive CW funds.”

This particular individual cited statistics that can be misinterpreted by the general public, thus requiring a formal response. The author mentioned “…how NMTI received over $1 million last year and trained [only] 84 students?” The writer’s numbers are a bit flawed as the amount of individuals that underwent training is actually 304, while the total number of UNDUPLICATED graduates is 93.

You will notice that in any meaningful training, you’ll see numbers that are similar. Please take special note that the Northern Marianas College in 2017 graduated 208 students, while training a grand total of over 1,000 students. Obviously, one must factor in that it takes a minimum of two years (AA degree) to report actual success. Most NMTI programs too require a commitment similar to that of NMC.

I would like to, once again, stress that we are not a “soft” vocational training center, which covers only the theoretical aspects of a trade. NMTI is an institution that will not sacrifice the overall training experience as the product is only as good as the investment. An example of our commitment is our certification in hotel and restaurant operations, in which an individual has a choice between our program and a similar program offered by another entity. While both touch the hospitality trade and both offer the same certifications from the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute, AHLEI, only we provide a hands-on requirement of 240 hours.

I ask you the end user to compare for yourself between courses with 180 hours of lecture and eight hours of job shadowing, to that of a course with 180 hours of lecture and 240 hours of “on- the-job training.” I would take it a step further by challenging the comparable program to a competition similar to CUC’s Lineman’s Rodeo, like competing in “setting up an event ballroom or any hospitality related scenario.” Working in the hospitality trade requires you to do more than recite procedures and or fill in multiple-choice questions.

I’ll take it one step further and report that NMTI has a 77-percent job placement rate among its graduates. The remaining 23 percent is a skewed figure as this number includes those individuals that take courses for “self enrichment” reasons. The entire premise of CW funding allocation rides on the objective of “job placement and/or worker replacement.” Is it our job? My answer is, “yes it is, as we are custodians of public funding meant to further an established agenda. As they say, “the proof is in the pudding.”

NMTI asks the general public to decipher for itself between “soft” vocational programs and that of “hard” vocational programs. I ask if you would ride in a plane piloted by an individual with merely eight hours of job shadowing? Of course not! You would demand the best available means of training when individual lives matter.

Being an educator my entire career, I am very familiar with how the cost of education is tallied. I ask you, the readers, to do your own investigative work and not be suckered into the “marketing campaigns” being offered that serve as a “mirage” in a bone-dry desert. While at the helm of NMTI, I will always allocate our financial resources into purchasing much-needed books, tools, equipment, etc., over a movie theatre advertisement or any similar promotional tool any day.

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank all of you, our stakeholders, for your continued support of trades education in the Commonwealth!

Agnes M. McPhetres is the chief executive officer of the Northern Marianas Trades Institute.

Agnes M. McPhetres (Special to the Saipan Tribune)

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