Alaskan shipyard Vigor and recruitment service Maritime Works have jointly announced plans for a training program aimed at developing an advanced manufacturing workforce of Alaska residents.
The initiative is called Advancing Alaskan Workers, and Vigor says it is essential to combatting the high turnover rates seen at the Ketchikan shipyard, and elsewhere, that result when non-Alaskans are recruited to fill the critical skills gap in the state.
In 2016, Vigor employed 191 people at the Ketchikan Shipyard, up from just 21 employees in 1994. With large contracts to build two Alaska-class ferries for the Alaska Marine Highway System and other large projects forecasted for the future, Vigor and Maritime Works say they are taking proactive steps to build a skilled local workforce to meet the demand.
The project offers structured on-the-job training, leading to industry-recognized credentials and family wage careers. “This is key to providing sustainable opportunities for Alaskans in the Ketchikan workforce as well as providing Vigor’s current workforce a path for upgrading skills, advancing to leadership positions and higher earnings,” says Cari-Ann Carty, spokesperson for Maritime Works.
More than 50 employees have registered for the project in its first week.
Advancing Alaskan Workers is only one initiative aimed at increasing the number of Alaskans employed in the maritime sector. Maritime Works is also involved in programs to address a shortage of qualified Alaskan workers in seafood harvesting, processing and marine transportation.