SAIPAN — The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded Northern Marianas College a $300,000 grant to help build and strengthen a registered apprenticeship program in the CNMI.

Through its Building State Capacity to Expand Apprenticeship through Innovation grants, USDOL awarded more than $81 million in grants to 42 states and territories.

In a statement, DOL said apprenticeship programs provide workers with the right skills needed in the labor market and aim to fix the skills gap that employers face.

NMC was awarded Tier 1 funding, which will give opportunity to students who want to combine on-the-job training with relevant classroom education.

"We are grateful for the U.S. Department of Labor's grant award and are looking forward to partnering with workforce development entities to expand the apprenticeship program here in the CNMI," said NMC Interim President Frankie Eliptico.

He also acknowledged the help of the CNMI Department of Labor in preparing the grant application, as well as the contributions of other agencies. He likewise recognized the team at NMC that helped write and put the grant application together.

He said NMC will include other educational entities and will focus on establishing the infrastructure of an apprenticeship system.

"The apprenticeship program can only succeed through a multi-agency, collaborative effort that expands training and development opportunities for workers in the CNMI," Eliptico said.

He added that the program will allow participants to earn while they train, obtain work experience, earn certifications and gain other benefits.