Members of the industry advisory committee meet with university leadership to review the first draft of the FSMI workforce development plan and to line out the initial action steps for its implementation. Photo by Monique Musick

Workforce plan aims to attract Alaskans to careers in fisheries, seafood and maritime industries

Players in Alaska’s widespread maritime industry have taken a big step toward hammering out the details of a statewide workforce development plan.

The document recommends a series of strategies that support current and future workers in areas deemed most critical, whether it be at a seafood processing plant, a shipyard, on the fishing grounds or in a diesel mechanic shop.

Growing career awareness; developing career pathways; improving access to employment; training Alaskans for fisheries, seafood and maritime employment; and improving industry engagement and accountability were all identified as priorities in supporting this strong economic engine in the state.

The Fisheries, Seafood and Maritime Workforce Development Plan has been developed over the past two years and continues to involve the input of seafood processors, commercial fishing associations, state and federal agencies, independent vessel operators, marine support industries, university representatives and regional training providers. An occupational needs-assessment was used to determine critical jobs in each sector and prioritized strategies required to fill those positions with Alaskans. The plan identifies actions and partners who can work together to avoid duplication and deliver the right training to the right people in the right communities. It provides educators the details needed to develop curriculum to prepare workers for these fields. Furthermore, it outlines an outreach plan for communicating to Alaskans interested in entering these vital industries clear career pathways.

“I’ve been with the university for eight years and have been involved in the development of multiple workforce development plans; from my perspective this is the first time that a workforce development plan has been built with this much industry input, bringing together regional training partners, state agencies and this level of industry involvement,” said Fred Villa, associate vice president of workforce development at the University of Alaska.

In a meeting of the Industry Advisory Committee Oct. 31, participants identified priority occupations and resources needed to provide training. The group identified six-month, one-year and two-year priorities.

“It was great to finally get a mix of educators, trainers and industry together. For those of us on the industry and informal training side, it was good to get an introduction to the challenges with coordinating different trainers outside the university system, as well as the opportunity to learn more from Jeff Johnson (Director UAS Sitka) about the growing Fisheries Technology program within the University of Alaska Southeast,” said Julie Decker of the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation.

There’s a big reason why the university decided to lead the effort to produce a job-ready workforce for these industries: in 2012, Alaska produced over 5 billion pounds of seafood--more than 57 percent of what was produced in the entire nation. This summer for the first time, Alaska surpassed a billion pounds of salmon alone. The human capital required is immense, but there are not enough Alaskans entering the workforce to maintain this industry into the future.

“This industry does not involve just a couple of people, it’s an army of people doing it,” said Kris Norosz, government affairs director at Icicle Seafood Inc. and co-chair of the Fisheries, Seafood, Maritime Industry Advisory Committee. “We need to ensure that we can continue this into the future. This whole effort to develop a Workforce Development Plan isn’t just about putting people to work. It’s about strengthening communities. Putting Alaskans to work. It’s about keeping the whole economic engine running and keeping it fine-tuned.”

Continued connection between industry, government and educators to implement the plan is vital.

UA President Pat Gamble explained to the group how the university identified fisheries, seafood and maritime workforce development as one of three priority topics to focus on over the next few years. He said a gap analysis was conducted and focused on finding out from employers what skills are required for positions in their industries. The university intends to refocus its partnerships with AVTEC and regional training centers to provide workforce training that meets those requirements.

“This plan will be used by policy makers,” said Norosz. “All these different audiences don’t know our industries. We need them to understand why this is important to us, why it is needed and how it’s going to benefit Alaska and Alaskans. We want their help to implement it.

For a copy of the latest workforce plan, go to

For more information, call Paula Cullenberg, Director Alaska Sea Grant College Program
(907) 274-9692

MAPTS celebrates Selkirk First Nation Students' Graduation

Ten students blaze a trail in Pelly Crossing

Ten Selkirk First Nations citizens were declared “trailblazers” last month by Chief Kevin McGinty after successfully completing the Heavy Equipment Operator Essential Skills program at the Hets’ edn k’ campus of Yukon College in Pelly Crossing.

Rolland Gunter, Allen Joe, Darrin Johnnie, Amy Johnny, Katherine Musick, Amanda Sam, Kelly Silas, Lazareth Simon, Nathan Roberts and Robin Sam were each honored with speeches, gifts and applause at a graduation ceremony attended by over 80 people at the town’s community center.

The three women and seven men have spent the past month learning how to operate Caterpillar haul trucks and other large machines on a simulator and through hands-on training as part of the Pelly Construction haul crew at Minto Mine.

Partners in the project included Selkirk First Nation, Capstone Minto Mine, Pelly Construction, University of Alaska Mine Training Center, Yukon Mine Training Association, Yukon Government, the federal government and Yukon College.

“It’s been an amazing partnership. The students have had a tremendous opportunity to get out onto the site and to drive the big trucks and they were coming home at the end of the day with huge smiles on their faces and really, really proud about their participation in the project and their ability to handle those big trucks,” said Shelagh Rowles, executive director of the Center for Northern Innovation and Mining.

Rowles said students will now have a chance to apply for jobs at the mine as well as with Pelly Construction.

“We hope to put these graduates to work as soon as possible. When positions become available in the coming months they will be the first people I call,” said Jennifer Byram, vice president of Community Affairs for Pelly Construction.

Chief McGinty is pleased with the success of the program. “These students are trailblazers. The community has witnessed how positive the program was and how confident these graduates are. I think if we ran this again tomorrow, we would have 30 people wanting to sign up, it has been that successful.”

University of Alaska instructor Sam Reves wrapped up the celebration with a prediction for the 10 graduates: “You began as students. Today you are graduates. The next time we run this program here, you will be teachers.”

UA College Savings Plan announces $25,000 and $2,500 scholarship account winners

Sixteen-year-old Cami Wood of Anchorage was randomly selected to win a $25,000 scholarship account in the UA College Savings Plan. Four more Alaskans from throughout the state won $2,500 scholarship accounts.

All Permanent Fund Dividend applicants who checked “yes” to question number six of their PFD application were automatically entered into the annual scholarship account drawing. The PFD checkoff asks residents if they would like to automatically contribute half of their dividend into a UA College Savings Plan account. The Education Trust of Alaska, established to administer the college savings program, funds the scholarship account giveaway.

“Cami was thrilled to get this scholarship,” said Cami’s mother, Louise Wood. “She is a junior at South High School and hasn’t chosen a college, but she is excited that this may fund more options.”

The winners of the $2,500 scholarship accounts are:

  • Hunter Dewall, 10, Anchorage
  • AJ Inthapanya-Yabut, 11, Anchorage
  • Jazlyn Fix, 9, Tok
  • Mizen Deraimer, 5, Juneau

The UA College Savings Plan has offered the scholarship account giveaway for the last four years. The drawing aims to give Alaska families an extra incentive to save their Permanent Fund Dividends for higher education expenses. More than 12,100 residents contributed to the UA College Savings Plan through the PFD check off this year, an increase of almost 1,000 people from the prior year. The plan has seen a 54 percent increase from the number of contributors since 2009, before the giveaway began.

“We encourage parents and grandparents to help build a child’s college savings account by contributing their PFDs as well,” said Lael Oldmixon, executive director of the College Savings Plan. She noted that family members participating in the checkoff increase a family’s odds of winning the drawing. “Last year a grandmother won and assigned her winnings to her granddaughter,” Oldmixon said.

The UA College Savings Plan will offer the scholarship account giveaway again next year to residents who contribute half of their 2014 PFD to the plan through the official application, which may be completed online or by visiting a distribution center. The application period runs Jan. 1 through March 31, 2014.

Beneficiaries in the Plan may use their funds to pay for education expenses at any eligible college, university, or vocational/technical school in Alaska or the Lower 48. Families can open a tax-advantaged account with their PFD contribution, or with as little as $50 a month.

For more information about the PFD, go to http://www.pfd.state.ak.us . To learn more about the UA College Savings Plan and the $25,000 Scholarship Account Giveaway, go to http://www.uacollegesavings.com .

UA education benefit to come up at December regents’ meeting

The UA education benefit (the “tuition waiver”) for employees comes up from time to time in various venues, including the Alaska Legislature and most recently at the November Board of Regents meeting. Human Resources is scheduled to provide an update on the benefit at the Dec. 12-13 board meeting at the request of a regent.

The UA administration will provide facts and context so all relevant information about the employee education benefit is available to the board.

Here are some points to keep in mind: MORE

Shaping Alaska’s Future reaches milestone—vetting of draft “effect statements” under way across UA System

The UA System is compiling feedback received so far on the draft set of “Effect Statements” distributed to UA leaders in late October.

These 17 effect statements are a declaration of improved outcomes the university seeks to achieve on its journey of continuous improvement and institutional excellence. Feedback from more than 80 internal and external listening sessions held during the 2011-2012 academic year; more than 100 meetings with faculty, staff and student governance groups; and a vast literature review set the stage for determining the outcomes.

A gathering of UA leaders held in Anchorage Oct. 30-31 focused on how essential leadership development, change management and team building are to success. In addition, the group provided significant feedback on the 17 draft Effect Statements. Chancellors’ cabinets from the three universities then returned to their individual campuses, disseminated the document, and gathered additional feedback. Governance groups also will review and offer feedback in the weeks ahead. Thomas said a new revised draft of the effect statements is expected by the Dec. 12-13 Board of Regents’ meeting.

President Gamble calls the process “design build,” and emphasizes that the draft will remain a draft for as long as it takes to get it right. For example, if an effect statement is later determined to be off the mark, it will change, he said.

“This whole effort is about the pursuit of excellence, but the minute you define that excellence, you’ve capped it,” he told the group gathered Oct. 31 at UAA’s Wendy Williamson Auditorium. “So we’re also in the pursuit of continuous improvement. The real challenge for leadership is how to move us forward.”

Since there is no precedent for Shaping Alaska’s Future, some confusion exists, especially while it’s still under construction. This is understandable. Here are a few key questions and answers to keep in mind:

What are we trying to accomplish?

We want to improve UA’s reputation for excellence, service and value; remain relevant in a period of dynamic change within U.S. higher education; and streamline and collaborate where it makes academic and financial sense.

As a UA employee, what does it mean to you?

For the past two budget cycles, UA’s budget request has focused on the five Shaping Alaska’s Future themes (Student Achievement and Attainment; Productive Partnerships with Alaska’s Schools; Productive Partnerships with Alaska’s Public and Private Entities; Research and Development to Sustain Alaska’s Communities and Economic Growth; and Accountability to the People of Alaska). Results through continuous improvement at UA are central to legislative funding decisions. Attracting external “new” money as well as determining how to make internal reallocations required in tight budget years ahead are our challenges.

Why should you care?

Through a series of listening sessions, our stakeholders have told us there are a few distinct areas where UA must improve. We must demonstrate to them that we are listening and focusing on what our students, state and nation need.

Northrim donation endows scholarship, honors bank founder Knudson

Northrim Bank and its affiliate, Residential Mortgage, have established an endowed scholarship with a $100,000 donation to the University of Alaska Foundation in memory of Chris Knudson.

Knudson died Sept. 13, 2013, after a lengthy battle against cancer. The scholarship will be available for UA students majoring in accounting beginning in 2014 at $4,500 per year—a $1,500 scholarship for students at each university. Northrim Bank will make additional contributions during initial years, until endowment earnings can support the annual $4,500 scholarships.

“We wanted to honor Mr. Knudson’s legacy at Northrim Bank and when asked, Chris noted that he wanted to support students who were in the accounting field,” said Joe Beedle, president and chief executive officer of Northrim Bank. “This scholarship will be a lasting tribute to inspire students in accounting throughout the UA system.”

The Chris Knudson Northrim Accounting Scholarship will be available for students, including part-time students, in pursuit of an Associate of Arts, Bachelor of Arts or Master of Arts degree at all three of UA’s major universities in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau, as well as their associated community campuses.

Jo Michalski, chair of the UA Foundation’s Board of Trustees, said the gift illustrates how private donations to the university translate into investments in the state’s economy. “Students from across Alaska will benefit from this contribution, which acknowledges the life work of Chris Knudson while helping to meet the state’s workforce needs.”

Knudson was executive vice president, chief operating officer for Northrim Bank and a director of the board of Northrim BanCorp. and was a charter officer along with founders Marc Langland and the late Arnold Espe, who started the financial institution in 1990. He began his business career at Peat Marwick and Mitchell, now KPMG LLP, in 1975. A graduate of the University of North Dakota with a degree in accounting, Knudson was a staff auditor for KPMG. One of his first jobs was auditing the First National Bank of Fairbanks, which he subsequently joined in late 1977 when Langland became president. Soon Knudson was named vice president and controller.

Knudson served as vice president and controller of Alaska Pacific Bank from 1982 to 1983; worked at Alaska Pacific Bancorporation in the same positions from 1983 to 1985; and then switched to Key Bancshares of Alaska from 1985 until 1987. From 1987 to 1990, he was senior vice president and chief financial officer before joining Northrim in 1990.

University’s governing board approves tuition, budget

The University of Alaska Board of Regents approved an FY15 budget request to forward to Gov. Sean Parnell for consideration as well as the second-lowest tuition increase in 10 years, continuing a trend started in 2007 to moderate financial impacts to the UA System’s 33,000 students statewide.

The governing board for UA’s 16 campuses met at the University of Alaska Anchorage campus Nov. 6.

By an 8-2 vote the board approved a $6 per credit increase for resident undergraduate (100-400 level) courses beginning in fall 2014. Resident graduate courses (500-600 level) will increase $12 per credit hour. The non-resident rate for both graduate and undergraduate will increase $12 per credit hour. Even with the increase, the university’s tuition is among the lowest of public institutions in the 15 Western states.

Jarmyn Kramlich, a junior at the University of Alaska Southeast and president of the UAS student government, thanked the administration for keeping tuition as low as possible. “We recognize that tuition has to go up; it can’t be zero when other costs are going up,” Kramlich said.

UA President Pat Gamble noted the three university chancellors and system administration have worked very hard to reduce costs internally. “Tuition should be the last place we go when trying to balance the budget,” Gamble said.

The board also approved operating and capital budget requests for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2014. The operating request totals $388 million in state general funds, with the university generating an additional $547 million through competitive federal research grants, tuition and fees, self-supporting auxiliary services, private donations and other sources.

Regents also endorsed the capital budget, at $319 million in state general funds plus an additional $84 million in university generated revenue. Deferred maintenance of existing facilities; finishing the two engineering buildings at UAA and UAF; a major upgrade of the UAF combined heat and power plant; and research specific to Alaska—including a digital mapping project and other initiatives--round out the capital request.

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