Kenai Peninsula College is hosting a statewide workforce development conference this week to bring leaders from the oil, gas and mining industries together with the state's education and training providers.
The Putting Alaska's Resources to Work Conference is sponsored by the University of Alaska. The conference was put together as a first step toward getting ready to put Alaskans to work in Alaska jobs. With the potential of the gas pipeline to the lower 48, NPR-A, ANWR development and growing mining interests in the state, the stakes are high to have a highly trained, Alaska workforce in place.
According to KPC Director Gary Turner, the conference was designed as a forum to facilitate communication between the oil, gas and mining industries and Alaska education and training providers regarding future training needs through the next twenty years and beyond.
"This has never been done before where industry and training providers get together to look at the future, take inventory of jobs that industry will have available and whether the state's training providers can provide the training. It is important we start planning now or we will find ourselves in the same position we did when oil was discovered on the peninsula and when the pipeline was built. Alaska training providers weren't ready for these projects, industry didn't clarify their needs and as a result many of the jobs went to outsiders. We want to do everything we can to provide Alaskans the opportunity to get the training they need to get these jobs," Turner said.
One of the most important aspects of the conference is the implementation of baseline assessment tools. Attendee's on the education and training provider and industry sides have been asked to participate in an assessment process prior to the conference. The collective goal of the assessments is to provide an understanding of both regional and statewide work force needs and capacity. Training providers are asked to outline the types of existing training available, as relates to the oil, gas and mining industries, while industry representatives are asked to appraise what types of occupation or skill sets they anticipate needing over the next two to seven years. The findings of both assessments will be shared at the conference.
"The assessments, designed by Scott Kraxberger who chairs our Business and Industry Department, are significant in that such tools have not been used before to inventory jobs and training provider capabilities. We will now be able to identify gaps. While these tools are like an inventory, they are much more, since we will be able to merge the documents from both sides of the table and do a gap analysis. Industry officials have praised the tool," Turner said. "It is our hope that when new companies come to Alaska in the future they can participate in this assessment so training providers like KPC know what they may be asked to do to provide skilled workers."
Greg O'Claray, state Commissioner of Labor, provided opening remarks and University of Alaska President Mark Hamilton gave the keynote address Tuesday. Then panels comprised of senior industry representatives discussed work force needs.
Alaska Commissioner of Commerce, Community and Economic Development Edgar Blatchford and Deputy Commissioner of Education and Early Development Karen Rehfeld will provide opening remarks. Alaska education and training providers will then discuss how workforce training needs can be addressed during panel sessions, along with breakout sessions to look at how they can meet future training challenges.
Attendance at the conference is by invitation only. Other guests included local and state government officials, school district superintendents, non-UA education and training providers in the state, senior University officials and apprenticeship representatives from the trade industry.
A follow-up conference is in the works for next fall that will be directed at training providers. The goal of the future conference is to work out details of how training will be provided in a cost-effective, student- and community-friendly way.
KPC Art Guild
The Kenai Peninsula Art Guild has begun accepting applications for its 2005 scholarship. Applications and three to five pieces of work are due by May 31.
For more information and to request an application, contact Debbie Harris at 283-7663 or
e-mail her at daharris310 @yahoo.com. Scholarship applications are also available at the KPC Financial Aid office.
exhibition in Homer
If you need a reason to go to Homer, make plans to see Celia Carl Anderson's "Disquietude" at the Bunnell Street Gallery.
Anderson heads the KPC art department and is a well-known artist who works in a variety of media, including her signature large, bright acrylic paintings.
According to the gallery, "this solo exhibit features large acrylic paintings that extend beyond the canvas by examining the intense emotion that can accompany individual and society change through powerful color, texture and social comment."
Anderson's show at 106 W. Bunnell Street in Homer will run through May 4.
This column is provided by Suzie Kendrick, community relations coordinator at KPC.
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