Recently, on behalf of the Construction Industry of Alaska, the AGC and the Construction Industry Progress Fund, I was in Kenai talking about a significant problem facing the state of Alaska. The problem a shortage of workers in the construction industry, now, and in the future.
This newspaper recognized the need to fill this labor shortage, especially when the industry is a $6 billion contributor to the state's economy. In the view of the Clarion, local hire has always been a concern of Alaskans. But when there aren't enough of us, then we have to look outside to fill the openings.
From the publisher of the Alaska Business Monthly comes a sensible, but well thought out answer an Alaska Construction Academy.
While some of our labor unions have adequate training facilities, we're short of the other required needs. And we know that our Alaska high schools are not preparing our students for these good construction jobs.
The state of Alaska has no long-term plan or strategy to get construction workers trained. And imagine if the gas pipeline goes through, some $20 million has been set aside for training. This is still woefully short in solving the needs we will have.
An Alaska Construction Academy could be the right answer. Let's focus on putting some of our state dollars through the Department of Labor into not only developing a successful plan, but implementing it as well. The DOL, along with business investors and the private sector working together, could make this happen if it were a major priority of the governor's office and the Legislature.
There are plenty of sites and facilities throughout the state that could house a variety of training centers.
We have spent a lot of time, effort and money focusing on training our youth for college and higher education, but the fact is only about 30 percent of our graduates (2,100) go on to college, the remainder (4,900) enter the job market. Surely we can train 1,000 workers annually in the Alaska Construction Academy to fulfill our labor requirements, especially if the state law requires 90 percent Alaska hire.
This is an idea whose time has come vocational training. I give full credit to the birth of a great idea to Alaska Business Monthly. Now let's make it happen.
Richard Cattanach is the executive director Associated General Contractors of Alaska.
Peninsula Clarion ©2013. All Rights Reserved.