Design Workforce Development Programs

The Division designs workforce development programs around industry driven strategies where competencies required for jobs are tied to industry skill standards and industry recognized job requirements. Since the Division’s beginning, we’ve built an industry-led statewide network of partnerships that focus on one outcome: building a skilled workforce responsive to industry demand. Building this system is a process of adapting existing programs and services, designing new ones, streamlining operations, reducing overhead, fast-tracking processes, and encouraging sustainability and leveraging.

One of the most exemplary examples is the Alaska Construction Academy.

For years many in the construction industry recognized that a workforce problem loomed in the not-too-distant future because of: an aging workforce that started their careers by building the last Alaskan pipeline; projected job growth with the future gas line construction; and a desire to reduce Alaska’s dependence on nonresident workers.

After years of analysis, the industry mobilized and did something about it by developing a new approach, creating Construction Academies. By using a highly successful partnership framework – a partnership among the industry, local school districts, adult education providers, Alaska Native associations, and the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development – the Alaska Construction Academies were created in 2006.

The idea was to attract and train young people and adults for entry-level jobs in construction and trade apprenticeship programs. The first pilot organized in Anchorage at the King Career Center with support from the Anchorage Home Builders Association, AGC of Alaska, Alaska Works Partnership Inc., Alaska Departments of Labor and Workforce Development, Education and Early Development, and Cook Inlet Tribal Council.

Expansion continued in 2007 with a direct appropriation through the Alaska Department of Commerce and Community Development, to start construction academies in Fairbanks, Juneau, Kenai Peninsula, Ketchikan and the Mat-Su Valley with a local Home Builders Association.

In 2008, $3.5 million in general funds were invested as a separate component in the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Division of Business Partnerships’ operating budget, to continue the Academies in the six urban communities. The $3.5 million investment was funded into this current state fiscal year.

This year, the Academies are expanding with pilot rural outreach programs in four rural Alaskan communities (Kodiak, Dillingham, Bethel, and Nome), leveraging a one-time, federal investment from the Denali Commission Training Fund and the Division of Business Partnerships.

Replicating the construction academies in six communities in just three years has resulted in significant increases in youth awareness about the career opportunities in the construction industry. In FY 2008 3,227 students and 315 adults received training. In FY 2009 3,402 students and 502 adults received training. In FY 2010, the Academies will train 3,417 students and 511 adults. The projection for FY 2011 is 3,597 students and 571 adults.

Commitment and flexibility on the part of local school districts has been particularly critical to the success of the high school components. Employers value the Academies’ approaches to ensuring graduates are motivated and aware of workplace expectations, while trained in basic skills. High school students appreciate the opportunity to discover relevant, or “real world” work experience while still in school. Both students and contractors value the trainers and job developers with industry experience.

On surveyed respondent says: “This is the first new program in 20 years in which ongoing general funds have been put toward local training infrastructure. We are actually able to help people … who are looking for an opportunity to try out the industry … We treat it just like a job … Bureaucracy is minimal … the program is first in terms of level of cooperation…”

Construction Academy students responding to a Senior Exit Survey, Class of 2009 gave their experience high marks:

For more information or to apply for training, go online to www.alaskaca.org.

The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development is an equal opportunity employer/program. Auxiliary aides and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.