As the shortage of workers continues to plague the island, skills training available to the people continue to thrive.
The Latte Training Academy was formed in late 2013 in response to the impending deadline for the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker program and the need for local workforce development. The academy started its formal class in the summer of 2014 offering workforce development training in hotel and hospitality and later on expanded to allied health program, business and computer.
LTA executive director Arielle Buyum said “Our training center offers four different tracks at this time. We started in 2014 with our hotel and hospitality program then in 2015 we added the Allied Health Program and that is the certified nursing assistant, certified phlebotomy tech and medical billing encoding nurse program. Just recently we added our business track that includes bookkeeping, accounting, quick books, office manager, and information technology track.”
“What we are trying to do is for the people in the island in order for them to advance and be competitive for that job, we try to give them that edge and give them that certification to make the company want to hire them and to make them succeed,” Buyum added.
To date, over 556 students have enrolled and 511 graduated from LTA. Of the 511 successful graduates, 486 of them acquired their certification, which gives the academy a 95-percent passing rate among its graduates.
“We don’t offer courses unless they result in certification. So we are offering either nationally or internationally recognized certifications so that it doesn’t end up just being a certificate from someone that no one has heard of. We’ve been very happy to be able to put 486 workers into the community in just three years,” said Buyum.
The academy has contracted three instructional providers—Guam Marianas Training Center, Island Training Solutions, and Cannoli Works of Saipan.
“They are the ones that actually give the instructions and they have instructors to conduct the courses. The skills that our students get are from well-established training centers and competent instructors. We want people to secure jobs and keep them here in the CNMI and if they want to move, we want them to have that ability that they can because they are certified,” Buyum said
Early this year, the academy joined the Saipan Chamber of Commerce and Chamber executive director Jill Arenovski welcomes the academy to its roster of members.
“Our Chamber is comprised of very small businesses, some of the largest companies on island, and everything in between. Together we learn from each other, share ideas, and come to the very best decisions for our community.”
Another program that the academy offers is the scholarship they provide to graduates who wants to pursue their education.
Buyum said “We are giving back to the community where each year we offer $11,000 worth of scholarships. This way, any of the students who graduated with us have up to three years to decide if they want to go back to school and enroll and get one of our scholarships.”
“Today we haven’t collected a single penny from any student. We have always been able to find a funding source. We have gotten grants and we would bid on projects like with the PSS (Public School System) as well as working with the workforce investment agency and they sponsor students. We also have employers sponsor students as when the employer wants the current employee to advance and they send them to us for training,” said Buyum.
When asked if the graduates will help fill up the worker shortage problem in the CNMI, she responded, “I don’t know if our pool of graduates will solve the problem but I do know that they will contribute to the solution of the problem. I really think that the efforts across all agencies that are doing workforce development, ourselves, NMTI (Northern Marianas Trades Institute), NMC (Northern Marianas College), and PSS all need to contribute because it is such a large problem.”
“So we are looking at labor releases where the CW workers are needed and we are looking at those skilled labor force that we need to replace so that’s where we have been deciding to focus,” she added.