Opinion: University of Alaska is one of our state’s greatest assets

Nearly a year since the first case of COVID-19 was discovered in Alaska, the pandemic continues to shake the state’s communities and economy. Many Alaskans are still out of work and struggling financially.

The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development reports average job losses for 2020 were 12,400, an 8.3 percent loss in employment compared to 2019. Anchorage now has a five-year recession and the pandemic to recover from. To see a full economic recovery, the city needs to add 18,400 jobs, a feat that will take years to accomplish.

But even during these challenging times, there are opportunities. The Anchorage Economic Development Corp. forecasts the addition of 4,000 jobs in 2021, the largest year-over-year increase in Anchorage jobs since 2001. A healthy housing market is driving new residential construction. A nearly $700 million logistics facility is just one of the potential projects coming to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. There is the potential for billions of dollars of new North Slope oil investments in the next five years.

Another bright spot is the University of Alaska. In Anchorage, the university is an important community asset. When COVID-19 created urgent needs in the local healthcare sector, the university responded swiftly. UAA trained more than 400 contract tracers; graduated and licensed 75 senior nursing students early to meet increased demand; provided personal protective equipment; and manufactured hand sanitizer and 3D printed face shields and ventilator parts. University experts in epidemiology, economic modeling, small business mentoring and mental health counseling assisted the state’s pandemic response.

Read the full article here.

Source: Opinion: University of Alaska is one of our state’s greatest assets | Juneau Empire

Alaska Higher Education Almanac 2021

Alaska’s unique challenges in higher education and workforce training shape the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education’s (ACPE) strategic goals, and provide opportunities for innovation.

One of these challenges is connecting communities of students and education leaders with the information they need about the overall state of higher education in Alaska and about postsecondary education institutions across the state. A first step towards addressing this need for timely and accessible information is ACPE’s Alaska Higher Education Almanac.

Read the Almanac here.

Source: Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education

New workforce data highlights the University of Alaska’s impact on preparing students for Alaska jobs & good wages

An in-depth analysis of nine major Alaska industries captures the impact that university programs have in preparing its students for jobs in Alaska’s workforce. The reports answer key questions related to the largest and fastest growing occupations that require some postsecondary education and highlights important employment indicators such as average wages earned, where UA grads work in Alaska, what industries they work in, and how they help boost the Alaska hire rate.

The workforce development and institutional research offices at the University of Alaska partnered with the Research and Analysis Section in the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development to create the reports, which demonstrate UA graduate outcomes in nine key fields — administration and finance, aviation, construction, fisheries and marine science, health, information technology, mining, oil and gas, and teacher education. The reports can be found at https://www.alaska.edu/ research/wd/reports.php.

“We are in the business of creating Alaska’s workforce,” UA Interim President Pat Pitney told the Senate Education Committee on Feb. 3, adding that 70 to 90 percent of UA graduates stay in Alaska and find employment. 

The health report, for example, shows that of more than 2,300 nursing graduates in both 2-year and 4-year programs, 89 percent remain in Alaska after graduation and are employed at an average wage of $70,000.

Teri Cothren, University of Alaska Associate Vice President Workforce Development, said: “This data demonstrates the success of our core programs and how we are contributing to Alaska’s high‐demand industries and economy.” 

In preparing the reports, the university analyzed labor market information to identify the largest and fastest-growing occupations in the nine industries, then linked related UA programs to those jobs. Detailed employment and wage information was extracted from employer quarterly reports filed with the Dept. of Labor. That means the numbers are based on a comprehensive match of all graduates who remain and work in Alaska.

“The economic value of training and education is abundantly clear in the data,” said Dan Robinson, Chief Labor Research & Analysis, Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. “More education and training also correlate strongly with lower unemployment rates.”  

Median earnings, for example, jumped from $35,328 for high school graduates to $44,619 for Alaskans with an associate degree, $57,708 for those with a bachelor’s degree, and $77,402 for holders of graduate or professional degrees. 

Read the full article here.

Source: UA News Center

Community of collaboration: UAA and UAF partner up on energy research

When research is portrayed in popular media, it’s often depicted as a lonely experience: the solitary scientist in their lab who single-handedly makes a big discovery. In the real world, research is an ongoing process that typically involves the labor, commitment and collaboration of entire communities. The Alaska Center for Energy and Power — a research center with offices at UAA, UAF and UAS — is one of those communities.

Read the full article here.

Source: UAA Green and Gold News

Alaska Fishing Group Embarks on Ambitious Venture to Boost the State’s ‘Blue Economy’

New ocean-related jobs, investments and opportunities will be seeded by an ambitious Blue Pipeline Venture Studio that connects marine business entrepreneurs with the technology, contacts and finances they need to grow.

“The state’s blue economy includes anything that takes place on the water, most prominently the seafood industry, along with marine recreation, maritime research, waterborne transportation and much more,” said Garrett Evridge, a well-known fisheries economist previously with the former McDowell Group and new research director for the Venture Studio.

“There is significant opportunity to grow the Alaskan ocean economy,” he added. “That might come from refinement of existing industries, getting more value out of salmon, for example, or support for new industries like growing seaweeds, or just being prepared for opportunities that aren’t even on the radar. Like what’s going to happen in 10, 20 or 30 years. What can we do now to position ourselves for success? We have a lot of challenges and opportunities that we know are headed our way, like climate change and ocean acidification. What’s our plan for those? It’s part of growing a culture that can embrace change and identify opportunities.”

The nonprofit Venture Studio is the first statewide program of the Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association’s Ocean Cluster that launched in 2017. It is modeled after a venture led by Iceland in 2011 that now includes over 50 clusters around the world.

Read the full article here.

Source: Alaska fishing group embarks on ambitious venture to boost the state’s ‘blue economy’ – ADN