Econ 919 - Training for the workforce of tomorrow

Mar 30, 2018

Jenny Baker, a recruiter with the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters office in Anchorage talks about what the union offers at the Alaska Job and Career Fair in Soldotna.
Credit Jay Barrett/KDLL

Hello, it’s March 30th, 2018, and I’m Jay Barrett with KDLL’s Econ 91-9.

The Alaska Job Service Center held its annual Job and Career Fair last week in the Soldotna Sports Complex. A score of job and military recruiters, trainers and more were on hand, as were hundreds of Central Peninsula folks looking for a job or a new career.

When it gets closer to fishing season, we’ll tell you what local canneries have to offer, but today, we focus on training.

We start with Job Corps. It is a program of the federal government, created in 1964 by Sargent Shriver, who, by the way, also created the Peace Corps.

Krystal Kompkoff tells us about the voc-ed program, which has about 230 students enrolled at any one time.

“We are a free voc-ed training program for low income young adults ages 16 to 24, and we're located  in Palmer, Alaska. And we train people in nine different areas and help them get a job when they are done," Kompkoff said. "And one of the unique things about us, is that we do take people that do not have their high school diploma or GED, as well as people have either of those things, so we can help them get that while they’re there.”

Yep, she said free.

She added that the range of courses is broad and designed with the Alaskan worker in mind.

“So we have, in the building construction trades, we have building construction technology, carpentry and electrical. For people want to work in a more office setting, we have accounting services and office administration. We also teach certified nursing assistant, security protective services, culinary arts, and one of my favorite trades, the water/wastewater treatment program," Kompkoff said. "That program takes a little bit longer, it’s a two-year program, but we help students get their hands-on training hours while they’re at Job Corps, so they can leave as a Level 1 Operator.”

She said the water/wastewater treatment operator program is the only one like it in the country. And the thing is: every single community in the state needs a water/wastewater treatment operator.

The IBEW, or International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers have an program that includes on-the-job training for which the intern gets paid, as well classroom work.

“It’s about 8,000 hours on the job training, so about four, to four-and-half to five years training," said Jackie Moua, a recruiter with the union. "There also classroom work. It’s about seven weeks for five years, so about 1,400 classroom hours.”

And not far away at the Carpenters Local booth, Jenny Baker, pitched that union’s internship programs, for carpenters, pile drivers and millwrights.

“The carpenters, this year we accept 30. The millwrights, we did not accept any just because there wasn't much work, and pile-drivers, only accepted 10 applications. And so it just depends on what field you're going to," Baker said. "We will be looking into getting more carpenters, just because down in the states they’re down. Fairbanks is short of carpenters and they are looking for people coming in.”

The Carpenters Union is not quite as free as the IBEW’s but it’s still an incredible way to learn a trade that is in high demand. And if anyone is out there with an eye on working the future AK LNG gas line, it’s probably best to get the training out of the way early.

Rounding out today’s show, our number of the week: Five. As in all five Alaska Supreme Court Justices were on the stage of a pretty full Renee C. Henderson Auditorium yesterday. The Supremes were in town to hear the Alaska Democratic Party argue that anyone should be able to run on the Democratic ticket, whether or not they are a Democrat. The State is opposed.

If the Democrats prevail, here’s something to think about: their victory may make it easier for the State Republican Party to remove three of their Alaska House members from the Republic ticket as punishment for caucusing with Democrats.

The current state house is fiscally far more circumspect about giveaways to the oil industry than the Republicans who held sway for decades, especially during the current price-per-barrel downturn. If the makeup of the State House flips, it would likely change that stance.

Chief Justice Craig Stowers said the court will deliberate the case and issue a written opinion probably by summer.