A workforce nightmare that looms

I have written about how our leaders are putting so much focus on the CW issue, even as I warned them about neglecting locals by not implementing some form of affirmative action, and how they are putting all their eggs in the one basket of CWs! I have yet to see any type of reforms; just “CW this and CW that” in the news but “locals this” or “that” is yet to be a reality when it comes to the workforce. I’m not against the CWs and I even support the need for them and their desires as American dreamers too but our leaders were distracted with the tunnel vision of old politics instead of the new politics of Washington.

The omission and failure to listen to social and political scientists to influence legislation is not just limited to the CNMI but also in Washington, which is the very basis of my book, The Audacity to Change. All leaders need to listen more with an open mind and more objectively to the scientists when dealing with legislation that will have a direct effect on the Social and political fabrics they represent and eliminate the partisan politics.

It is obvious the tour guide certification was done for big business and not for locals to get jobs, which is why the law is counterproductive to locals becoming tour guides. Locals never needed a law to be tour guides, just an MVA policy to certify locals to set a “standard for expectations”! Tour guides should all be locals, like you will find in almost every tourist destination in the world but not the CNMI. The need for locals to speak a second language should have been placed on the tour agencies to sponsor the “teaching” of locals and to use CW translators until locals have made the transformation of speaking the language of tourists. By having CW tour guides, it continues the paradigm of needing CWs, which we know will come to an end.

The CNMI is literally setting itself up for failure with the dependency of using CW tour guides. I don’t think MVA or the Legislature realized what they were doing and they just threw my warnings into the trash as this could have been avoided.

To make it worse, some locals treat me like I’m the enemy. What is wrong with me trying to make sure locals are not eliminated from being part of the workforce? If I were local, I would getting all kinds of praise and appreciation.

I’m even trying to make sure locals are the main entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry that is on the table to be implemented because the last draft that I saw is designed to give the industry to big business. It even eliminates locals with a record and puts much of the accountability for these businesses on themselves; the law will devastate locals if our leaders don’t fix the bill.

The workforce nightmare that looms is no joke for the powers-that-be on the hill and at MVA if they don’t change. I love Chris and I think he is a great person to be over MVA but the board really messed him and the local people around when it comes to the workforce equation, which is: Locals first + CWs = CNMI workforce.

But, to be honest, many locals are not interested in working in hotels doing the menial jobs that don’t really offer a career and only offer minimum wage. The tour guide positions and the manufacturing of marijuana for medical and recreational use and the production of hemp products will all open the door for locals to be trained as skilled workers who will get high wages with the real potential for careers. But our leaders need to set the right conditions for locals to thrive in the workforce and stop disenfranchising them.

Our leaders keep repeating the same experiment of extensions with CWs over and over, expecting a different result,. Which business has started recruiting from the FSM or Palau? See what I mean, nothing new, just more extensions. I am hopeful that this opinion will truly encourage our leaders to rethink the tour guide certification and marijuana laws.

Ambrose M. Bennett
Kagman, Saipan

Ambrose M. Bennett Aguilar

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