Training Alaska's future work force and providing skills for those in need of jobs is a challenge taken on by Bob Hammer and the instructors of the Kenai Peninsula Construction Academy. Last week Hammer and company officiated over the Academy's graduation celebration and pizza party. "This is the third year we've had classes through the Construction Academy where we've been able to give basic carpentry, electrical, plumbing, and welding classes. Our student turn out was really good this year and our goal, as always, is to not only teach them a skill, but to help get them all employed. We've had some good partners again this year with the Department of Labor, the AGC, and the Construction Education Foundation of the State of Alaska," said Hammer. Hammer says that while the job market in Alaska as in the lower 48 is in somewhat of a slum, he believes that a major construction project such as a gas pipeline will happen eventually. When it does, their goal is to have Alaskans ready to fill those good paying jobs so that they won't have to go workers outside of the state.
The plumbing field seemed to appeal to the ladies at this years academy and according to Hammer there are a couple of reasons for that. "The wages are good and in today's economy it takes two working people to support a family. Ladies make just as good hands in the construction industry as the men do, and they may pay more attention to detail than the guys do, so there certainly is a place for them in the workforce also," added Hammer.
Doug Bass was the instructor for the welding class and told the Dispatch that welders are in demand not only in the oil field and mining industries but are needed in the fishing industry as well. "There is a lot of interest in welding and we had some very talented people this year interested in taking up the trade," he said. "I was temporarily laid off this winter and I needed something to keep me busy, so I ended up at the Job Center where I heard about the class and went through the interview process and got accepted to the academy where I was very impressed at how much fun the course, how skilled the instructors were, and I learned a lot of things I didn't know in the past but am sure I'll use in the future wherever I go back to work," said welder graduate Richard.
The next Construction Academy class will begin in mid March and anyone desiring more information can call or stop by the Job Center in Kenai where their offices are located in the old Carr's Mall.
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