A former New York City garbageman, Giancarlo Mone is a both a first-generation Italian-American and—as of this semester—a first-generation college student, too. “I don’t see myself moving back,” he noted. “I wanted to see intellectual smarts in a blue-collar world, and I feel Alaska has that.”
Want to work on the Dodge Challenger? Or a Jeep Wrangler? Maybe that rare winterized Maserati or Alfa Romeo?
Through a new partnership between Fiat Chrysler Automotive (FCA) and the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), automotive students and current technicians now have greater access to the company’s wide fleet of vehicles without leaving the state.
The new partnership between the university and automaker will expand opportunities for students, save money for the dealerships, and meet a growing national need for technicians. Currently, Alaska’s Chrysler dealerships send technicians to training centers in the Lower 48. This program will start training students on FCA cars before they reach the dealerships, and allow current technicians to receive up-to-date training in Anchorage instead.
The partnership is a product of the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3), a nonprofit that connects the dots between colleges and companies in transportation, energy and manufacturing. Through the new agreement, FCA gives the university access to web-based training programs typically available only to full-time technicians, and allows a UAA faculty member to earn certifications as an FCA trainer.
“If you want to work for Anchorage Chrysler as a service technician, you would have to do these training modules that we’re just basically going to integrate into our program” explained Jeff Libby, director of the university’s Transportation and Power Division. That saves time for students, and allows them to graduate with industry-recognized certifications. UAA already offers a similar track with General Motors. “It definitely means that they’re going to have employment opportunities,” Libby said.
The partnership will unfold in two steps. First, UAA will incorporate the automaker’s online training into its regular automotive curriculum. NC3 predicts students who complete the FCA online training—which keeps pace with new models and technology—will be able to perform 50 percent of warranty work in a service department by the time they graduate.
On this workforce Wednesday, we take a look at the field of aviation maintenance technologies. A technician in this field is responsible for replacing and repairing plane parts, and diagnosing maintenance problems as they arise. We were joined by Paul Herrick with UAA’s aviation technology department.
He described the local program at UAA that prepares students to take the certification exam necessary to become a certified mechanic or a maintenance technician. The program is FAA approved, and Paul considers the program within the top ten percent as far as quality in the nation.
The best type of person suited for the job, according to Paul, is a person with attention to detail, who can remain focused and exact. Someone with a strong sense of responsibility is also preferred, as they are protecting the public’s safety.
Positions in aviation maintenance technologies typically pay between $22 and $45 an hour, but that scale is largely based on experience and time within a certain company.
On Workforce Wednesday, KTVA sat down with State Economist Neil Fried who discussed what industries provided the best opportunities for someone in Alaska hoping to join the workforce.
According to Neil, some of the best industries to aim for when looking for work in the state are healthcare, mining, tourism, fishing and air cargo. These Industries are essential for Alaska, and therefore will always need positions filled.
When asked which industry provided what he believed to be the best opportunity for employment, Neil stated that he believed healthcare was the best bet. Due to people always needing care despite changing times, and how the need for healthcare grows as our population grows, that the business of healthcare was a great place to look for employment.
Neil also believes that younger people looking to enter the field are in a great position to find work in today’s world.
“We have jobs in the maritime industry, with the seafood processing industry, and construction, mining, trucking industry is pretty supportive of us,” he said. “And our program is NATEF accredited, the National Automotive Technology Education Foundation, the only one in Alaska that has the accreditation. It’s a big deal.”
Libby says they’ve seen a 20 percent increase in enrollment in the past two years, due to the job demand and pay.