Alaska Maritime Education Consortium designated a 2021 Center of Excellence for Domestic Maritime Workforce Training and Education

The Alaska Maritime Education Consortium (AMEC) has received a Center of Excellence for Domestic Maritime Workforce Training and Education (CoE) designation in 2021. The announcement was made by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration on May 19. Twenty-seven maritime training and education organizations received this designation and AMEC is one of just two consortium models to receive this recognition.

The Alaska Maritime Education Consortium (AMEC) represents a collaboration between the University of Alaska and the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development through the Alaska Vocational Technical Center (AVTEC) in Seward. The university campuses include: University of Alaska Anchorage Kenai Peninsula College at Kachemak Bay Campus in Homer, Kodiak College, and Prince William Sound College in Valdez; University of Alaska Fairbanks Bristol Bay Campus in Dillingham; and University of Alaska Southeast Ketchikan Campus. Through the consortium, Alaskans across the state have access to four state-of-the-art mission bridge simulators and firefields, more than 40 U.S. Coast Guard approved courses, and other industry recognized training.

“This prestigious designation recognizes the value of our partnership and the caliber of our maritime training programs as being among the best in the country,” said UA Interim President Pat Pitney.

As enacted in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, certain colleges are designated as maritime centers of excellence with the goal of creating a new talent pipeline for careers in the maritime trades. The program is designed to assist the maritime industry in gaining and sustaining a well-trained labor force while enhancing diversity and inclusion in the industry. Through these designations, MARAD may start working with the designated institutions to enter into cooperative agreements to help advance recruitment of students and faculty, enhance facilities, award student credit for military service, and potentially receive assistance in the form of surplus equipment or temporary use of MARAD vessels. 

The collaboration between the University of Alaska and AVTEC provides maritime career pathways to good paying jobs and helps provide a skilled workforce to meet the maritime industry’s needs. While this consortium was established in 2019, UA’s partnership with AVTEC and commitment to this key economic sector has been growing for more than a decade.

“We intend to utilize this designation to expand the awareness of the industry, career opportunities, and the premier training that is available at AVTEC and multiple University of Alaska campuses,” said AVTEC Director Cathy LeCompte.

In preparing the CoE application, AMEC developed its five-year Action Agenda as a follow-up to the 2014 Alaska Maritime Workforce Plan. It includes a brief summary of the Plan’s goals and strategies, an update and review of the maritime priority occupations based on labor market information, activities and outcomes since the Plan was published, and specific AMEC projects to strengthen training and employment.

Through the CoE designation, the Maritime Administration supports community or technical colleges and maritime training centers that prepare Americans for careers in the maritime industry. The CoE designation recognizes the tremendous value that the Alaska Maritime Education Consortium provides to our state and nation. AMEC will leverage the designation to strengthen future funding opportunities to invest in these maritime programs and enhance their ability to meet the maritime workforce industry’s needs.

Alaska’s maritime industry — often referred to as “Alaska’s blue economy” — supports more than 70,000 jobs and, according to the Alaska Department of Labor, is the state’s largest private employer. It includes fishermen, seafood processors, ocean managers and researchers, vessel operators, deckhands, mechanics and many others who work in jobs connected to Alaska’s 34,000 miles of shoreline and multibillion-dollar annual seafood industry. Alaska waters produce more than 60 percent of the nation’s seafood harvest with a wholesale value of nearly $6 billion.

Alaska is highly dependent on maritime shipping for imports of food and other goods, and for exports of oil, seafood and minerals. Alaska’s blue economy is boosted annually by millions of dollars generated from water transport including visitors arriving on cruise ships, halibut charters, travel on Alaska’s Marine Highway vessels and subsistence hunting and fishing. These opportunities require a responsive workforce that enables the maritime sector to remain a substantial contributor to the state.

For additional information, please visit Centers of Excellence on the MARAD website.

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For more information contact Monique Musick, manager communications and marketing UA System Office, 907-388-4784, or Cathy LeCompte, 907-224-6150, director of the Alaska Vocational Technical Center.

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