The state of Alaska has provided the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District with a grant to give high school students a chance to learn basic construction skills.
"There's a demand for workers in the construction field," said Barb Roper, project coordinator. "With that in mind, we are partnered with the Kenai Peninsula Builders Association and we provide training to folks to fill that void that our peninsula contractors are feeling. With a potential gas pipeline being built it will be nice to have trained Alaska personnel without having to go Outside."
Two four-week sessions have been slated at Nikiski, Soldotna and Homer high schools, as well as at the Workforce Development Center in Kenai.
"This concept has been in the works for quite some time," Roper said. "There have been many proposals submitted and there was finally one that was attractive that we partnered with."
During the first session, Nikiski will offer plumbing, Soldotna will focus on framing and Homer will offer carpentry. For the second session, courses change and Nikiski and Homer will offer wiring and Soldotna will focus on metals and welding. The Workforce Development Center will offer carpentry and welding for both sessions.
The first session began Tuesday with students meeting at Nikiski and Soldotna high schools and WDC. Homer students will begin training today. Students at Nikiski will meet from 3 to 5 p.m. every weekday, Soldotna and WDC will meet from 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and for four hours on Saturdays, and Homer will meet two days per week for four hours to accommodate for transportation of students in outlying areas.
The courses are open to juniors and seniors enrolled at borough high schools. Students choose which course they attend based on their interests.
"We're focusing on juniors and seniors because they're more willing and prepared to enter the workforce," Roper said. "High school counselors were just tremendous in getting a list of students. They really helped in the recruiting process."
Students participating in both sessions of the program have the opportunity to accrue 90 total hours of training and may be eligible for a half credit in practical arts. They also will receive a certificate stating which skills they learned.
"We're working with the local job center to have the kids go over and have a resume-preparing day," Roper said. "We'll do whatever we can to enhance their employability skills."
Similar training is being offered in other parts of the state, like Juneau and Anchorage.
"It's a win-win situation," she said. "We can train these kids and hopefully get these kids some summer employment but it also helps area builders. The response we got from students is just incredible."
Hannahlee Allers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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