‘Sufficient workforce crucial to sustaining economy’

THE newly reinstalled president of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, Velma Palacios, said having a sufficient workforce is crucial to sustaining the CNMI’s economic recovery.

In her speech at the chamber’s gala event on Saturday, she said the chamber continues to support the goals of the Northern Marianas Business Alliance Corporation which is lobbying the U.S. Congress to provide relief in connection with the islands’ workforce crisis.

Palacios said they are also grateful for the introduction of the Northern Mariana Islands U.S. Workforce Act, or S.2325, sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and H.R. 4869 sponsored by U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, Ind.-MP.

“This is an important step in keeping our economy stable while allowing moderate growth as we continue to train U.S. qualified workers to fill the numerous employment positions available,” Palacios told chamber members. “We ask for your help in pushing the legislation forward. As you are aware, there is a U.S. Senate hearing scheduled for Feb. 6, 2018 on this legislation. We ask for your businesses and organizations to submit letters of support to our delegate’s office.”

She said “having a sufficient workforce capacity is crucial to sustaining the CNMI economy. We applaud the Public School System, Northern Marianas College, the Northern Marianas Trades Institute and the Latte Training Academy for their much needed educational programs which will further enhance the skills of our people. This will allow them to obtain employment and grow successfully within their chosen fields.”

Palacios thanked the chamber’s committees for all their hard work and for accomplishing a lot of fruitful projects that made 2017 a productive year.

These included awarding $12,000 in scholarships for students, the launching of the Toys 4 Tots program and the installation of four benches at the Veterans Cemetery.

Palacios said for 2018, the chamber will continue to work toward creating a better business environment for all while always considering the importance of local people and local culture.

In addition, she said the chamber will form an ad-hoc committee called the Sustainable Growth Task Force which will bring together the business community and key government agencies and officials to find solutions for the challenges of recruitment and retention of U.S. qualified workers from outside the CNMI.

She said this is in addition to the ongoing development of a local workforce in the CNMI.

Moreover, there will be a seminar on employment-based immigration set for March to inform businesses in greater detail about their other options, she said.

“We must continue to explore all options for using alternate visa categories and for attracting U.S. qualified workers from other regions,” Palacios said. “It is imperative that we make every effort and we document these efforts to show the federal government the steps our businesses are taking to move forward and that we in the CNMI are doing our part.”

Source: Marianas Variety :

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