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State of Alaska receives $4 million grant to expand workforce

Published: Jul. 5, 2021 at 4:11 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The United States Department of Labor has awarded the State of Alaska with a $4 million grant to expand apprenticeship programs in the state.

According to Anne Velardi, Apprenticeship Coordinator with the Alaska Department of Labor, the grant will be used to expand apprenticeship opportunities in Alaska, especially for underserved populations. “Our underserved populations could be rural people, it can be women, it can be people from various ethnic groups, it could be young people - many different ways to define that. But basically what we’re trying to do and what the federal government is trying to do is expand those opportunities and apprenticeships to as many people as possible.”

According to Velardi, the apprenticeship grant will also provide more opportunities to those seeking alternative paths outside of college. “There’s a big population in Alaska, especially of young people. They graduate high school, they don’t go on to college, they may not want to go to college or they may be people who would be better off kind of doing an earn and learn model, as well as people who have been in the workforce but need to be retrained. This is really a great opportunity for people to earn and learn at the same time. We’d be expanding the workforce, assisting employers, and also helping people get new careers.”

This is not the only grant offered for apprenticeship programs by the Alaska Department of Labor, as there are hundreds of occupations in which Alaskans can apprentice.

“How we’re planning to do this particular pot of money, is that we have about 19 partners who have already signed letters of commitment. So we’re going to offer those grants to those partners first and they’re going to hopefully use this to expand the apprenticeship for their organization or a group of organizations that they work with. We’ll be able to grant these organizations money directly to fund items for apprenticeships such as the cost of the related technical instruction that all apprentices have to do, license, support services, things that will help the apprentices complete their apprenticeship,” Velardi remarked. “When we say trades, we’re talking about there’s over 1,200 apprenticeable occupations, and those cut across a wide variety of career fields. I mean, it’s not just construction. It’s engineering, it’s IT, it’s healthcare, it’s administrative occupations. So that’s another thing we are trying to expand with this grant is the opportunity for people to get into what we call pre-apprenticeship programs, which helps prepare you to get into an apprenticeship.”

For more information on apprenticeships and how to apply, visit the Alaska Department of Labor’s website.

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