Maritime industry plans to become more local

Click here to read the plan.

Click here to read the plan.

Alaska wants to help residents take control of the maritime industry, and now there’s a plan to prove it. The plan was presented Wednesday at the Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce lunch.

The Alaska Maritime Workforce Development Plan aims to better prepare Alaskans to join the maritime work force. This means training and skill development geared toward establishing careers and enabling upward and outward movement within the industry.

The University of Alaska, several state agencies and representatives from 21 private companies, federal agencies and industry organizations developed the plan over the last few months.

Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce executive director Chelsea Goucher said Southeast Alaska has a loud voice on the committee, helping to steer the direction of the plan.

“About half of the people on [the committee] are associated with Southeast Alaska, so that really reinforces how much we are a maritime industry down here in Southeast and how much of an influence we have and  are having in making the maritime industries recognized on a state-wide level,” Goucher said.

The development plan lays out five strategies to strengthen the Alaska presence in the maritime industry. Increasing job opportunity awareness, offering training and advertising maritime jobs as sustainable career options are all part of the strategic plan.

Joel Pilgrim, the electrical supervisor for Vigor Alaska, said another important strategy is to make educational and training opportunities available to the workforce.

“We used to put a lot of focus on day-to-day activity training, but what we were getting feedback from the employees themselves is they were learning to do that anyway,” Pilgrim said. “They wanted something that they knew they needed to brush up on.”

Pilgrim said Vigor already offers basic math, blueprint reading and welding courses for its employees.

The plan includes close collaboration with the University of Alaska system, including college credit for training courses and an emphasis within existing degrees to focus on maritime industries.

It also coincides with Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce’s push to make marine industries a priority in the eyes of the state. The Chamber submitted a proposal earlier this month requesting recognition by the State Chamber, which would allow more access to and support from government resources and agencies. The Alaska Chamber will make that decision this fall.

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