CNMI Casino Operator To Partner With College For Workforce Training

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Mega Stars to help Northern Marianas College offer free hospitality education

By Lexi Villegas Zotomayor

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, June 6, 2014) – The casino investor has taken the first step towards ensuring that their operation will be getting the skilled labor they need on island.

Mega Stars Overseas Ltd. met with Northern Marianas College yesterday to draw up partnership plans to prepare local residents to fill jobs in integrated resorts such as theirs.

Mega Stars Overseas Ltd., part owner of Marianas Entertainment Ltd. which is aiming to get a casino license on Saipan, is bent on helping the college provide free education not only to college-age students but also any local resident who is keen to learn a skill, get certified or earn a degree in the hospitality field for free.

Mega Stars director of business development Albert Davia, who consults for big casino investors in the Asia-Pacific region, confirmed the meeting with NMC President Dr. Sharon, among other NMC officials yesterday as they explored ways by which they can train the local workforce to fill jobs in casinos and hotels.

Davia said they are ready to proceed to work on providing training to interested local residents.

"It was a good meeting. It was a good start," said Davia.

Since it made manifest its intent to acquire the casino license on Saipan, Mega Stars put forward a plan for the construction of the $2 billion integrated resort they call "Legend of the Ocean" which will include training local residents to fill jobs in the hotel and casino.

In meeting the second group of casino investors yesterday, NMC President Dr. Sharon Y. Hart said, "We were very pleased to meet them this week."

She said NMC hosted the other potential casino investor recently.

[PIR editor’s note: Marianas Variety reported that the other casino license applicant "Best Sunshine International Limited yesterday met with the officials of Northern Marianas Trade Institute to see how it might help the school train as many locals as possible in five years, for private sector jobs. … Best Sunshine chief operating officer Terence Tay noted that almost all the courses that NMTI offers provide skills needed by the proposed integrated resort. … NMTI offers classes in culinary arts, carpentry, and the electrical, plumbing, construction and automotive trades."]

They both outlined their plans to have an educated workforce for the CNMI and how they could partner up with the college.

Dr. Hart said Mega Stars said that they would like to develop a curriculum from casino management to the hospitality side of their venture.

She said they spoke of how quickly the programs could be offered and how willing the college was to work with whichever company the CNMI government chooses for the casino project.

"In either case NMC is well positioned," she said adding that their involvement with WICHE opened doors to collaborating with over 250 institutions across the nation.

"Both investors want to move immediately. Both are poised to get into training as soon as the license is granted," she said.

She said she concurred with these investors in their pursuit of having a well educated workforce in a partnership with NMC.

Variety learned that both parties talked about three different categories of study that local residents may pursue: (1) introductory courses; (2) a diploma course; (3) and "continuous study."

The introductory courses will allow students to learn the basic skills to qualify them for entry level jobs at the casino.

The next level will enable the student to move up the corporate ladder.

The last level will keep them engaged in courses that will further their managerial skills on a part-time basis while they work.

According to Mega Stars, their immediate interest is for NMC to run an "induction training" for prospective candidates who are interested in applying for jobs at Legend of the Ocean.

"On a long term partnership, we are interested in sponsoring the College to come up with a curriculum to meet the needs of the CNMI’s latest tourism development: the theme park, hotel and casino," said Davia as he echoed their presentation before Dr. Hart and other college officials.

Mega Stars, Variety was told, is committed to providing funding and expertise in support of the development of this curriculum which will benefit CNMI’s tourism industry as a whole.

According to the investors, the curriculum is the first step towards building a knowledge base necessary to promote best practices and "service excellence" in the industry.

"Marianas Stars is committed to being a responsible employer. Our employee remuneration will be market competitive, both in terms of wages and associated benefits. If necessary, we can provide assistance to facilitate access to low cost transportation, child care and other family friendly support for our employees," according to the investors’ presentation before the officials.

Mega Stars is looking at getting the college’s assistance in offering courses such as Business Administration and Hotel Administration, Hospitality Management, Gaming Management, Restaurant Management, Marketing, Recreational Management, Entertainment Management, among other areas.

Mega Stars, Davia said, is ready and willing to bankroll these programs at NMC to help get local residents started in the tourism and hospitality industry.

These programs, Mega Stars believes, will help the islands develop the workforce in view of the phase-out of the CW program.

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