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SHEFA board looking at prioritization of employment fields

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The Saipan Higher Education Financial Assistance board discussed yesterday the need to provide more incentives for specialized studies in terms of post-secondary graduate education degrees.

This discussion comes from the Public School System’s need for special education teachers and other specific degrees that also benefit the office of Vocational Rehabilitation as well as the Division of Youth Services.

According to the Special Education State Advisory Panel meeting last month, middle schools on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota, showed that for 229 special education students, there are only 13 HQTs with the help of numerous aides.

For elementary schools, it’s 269 students to 16 teachers and for high schools it’s 282 students to 9 teachers.

Board member Raymond Muna also noted the other importance of fully supporting the Northern Marianas Trades Institute once it is accredited to address the labor needs of the CNMI to ensure that students who do not pursue traditional degrees can still become gainfully employed.

SHEFA chair Oscar Babauta lamented on the difficulties faced by graduating students who avail of the SHEFA scholarship program who are rejected from employment due to a lack of experience.

“For those freshly out of college, although they have their degree, experience is a barrier to gaining employment which is why we are revisiting this with the Civil Service Commission and working with the Department of Labor to break down and prioritize employment fields,” he said.

Board member Ursula Aldan expressed that there have been previous discussions with the Office of Personnel Management and that there are existing avenues where students can become employed even without experience.

“It depends on the hiring department to pick these students up with no experience but there are steps and levels where employers can put them on probationary periods,” stating that the hiring of new graduates without experience can be done thereby rendering the practice of disqualification based on experience unwarranted, she said.

Daisy Demapan | Reporter

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