Alaska Business Monthly: One goal of the University of Alaska’s Strategic Pathways is to develop a highly skilled workforce for Alaska jobs. How many students will graduate from the University of Alaska this May?
Jim Johnsen: While we won’t have exact numbers until late May, we anticipate approximately 4,700 students to graduate from the University of Alaska (UA) in 2017. We’re very proud of our graduates and we look forward to watching them grow into Alaska’s next generation of leaders. That said, there’s more we need to do. Our state is currently facing a variety of challenges, and we believe that education and innovation will drive the change that we need to build the Alaska of tomorrow. The single most important factor in building a competitive and sustainable economy in Alaska is developing our talent. UA does that by providing high quality, affordable, and accessible academic and vocational programs.
By 2025, 65 percent of the jobs in our economy are projected to require workers to have some post-secondary training. The last time this was measured, Alaska met 37 percent of this need. If K-12, vocational programs, other Alaska institutions, and UA education can prepare Alaskans for these jobs, Alaskans will fill them. Otherwise, Alaska will continue to face a shortage of skilled employees and will need to import labor from outside or do without even as unemployment in Alaska continues to rise. We’re working to inspire Alaskans to join us in meeting this 65 percent by 2025 goal with a new, privately-funded campaign. Alaskans can find out more and sign up to be part of the change that Alaska needs at www.drivechangeak.org.
Read the full interview here.