The Public School System, Northern Marianas Technical Institute, and the CNMI Department of Labor sat down last week to share a vision for the CNMI Career Technical School and their goal to entice students to be open to take on the career pathways program.
In explaining the process of career pathways, Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred Ada gave as an example teaching the basics of carpentry and how this can be learned through specific courses in high school that lead to that pathway. One required subject would be geometry; the student can take this and will go down that path. When they graduate from high school, they can then take advance level carpentry classes at NMTI.
“Another example is seamanship. In freshman years of high school, you would learn about what is seamanship, then marine biology, then how to be a merchant marine. Then at NMTI you would learn at an advanced level and take the national test,” said Ada.
In line with this, Ada proposed to NMTI to make it a goal to provide higher, national level certifications.
Ada said he understands the priority of continuing to lead students on the path to college but, on the other hand, he acknowledges that many employers seek out and require more skilled workers. Ada theorized that possibly raising the salaries for skilled trades will help students consider pursuing that opportunity in trade school.
“We push our kids through college, [yet] employers say we need more skilled workers. A lot of emphasis is going to college. We can up the game salary-wise for the trade school,” Ada said.
“Where are you going and what do you want to do? These are the universal questions that all students are finding the answer to. We’re trying to entice a new generation to become skilled workers,” said Ada.
Rep. Leila Staffler (D-Saipan), who chairs the House education committee, attended the meeting. NMTI interim chief executive officer Joleen Attao also shared her vision of NMTI growing into a functional and productive trade school of young students.
“I’m hoping that we get more guidance toward pursuing this,” said Ada.