CNMI Encouraged To Train, Employ Micronesian Migrants

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Freely Associated States citizens could fill manpower shortage: Kia‘aina

By Joel D. Pinaroc

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, June 4, 2015) – The CNMI should continue to look into ways of addressing a looming manpower crisis and one possible way is to hire citizens from the Freely Associated States.

FAS citizens include those from the Republic of Palau, the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia’s Ponhpei, Chuuk, Yap, and Kosrae.

Department of the Interior’s Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Esther Kia’aina, on a recent visit to the Commonwealth, said the CNMI should strengthen its workforce development capacity.

"Please do what you can to strengthen your workforce development capacity because it is going to be the underpinning for your efforts to try to seek increased immigration beyond 2019," Kia’aina, in an interview said.

She added that "FAS citizens can go here (CNMI) legally. There are no hindrances and there should be some efforts to hire them from their own countries, and even neighboring Guam for those needing job opportunities."

"When you go to Congress and ask for an extension, you should make sure you have done everything possible to strengthen your manpower capacity," Kia’aina said.

The OIA official further said the "government cannot do it alone" and agencies such as the Public School System and the private sector should pitch in.

According to Kia’aina, her job would be "to help the Northern Mariana strengthen its hand" on these concerns.

She cited efforts of the OIA on manpower development, including a $300,000 grant for the PSS which will be used as stipends for junior and senior students.

The official further said it is not for her to make a determination if the CNMI will be able to fill up all of the needed manpower once the CW program for foreign workers ends in 2019, but she will continue to seek more dialogues with CNMI Labor officials on workforce development in the Commonwealth.

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