- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 25, 2016

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - The state of Alaska has received a $1 million grant to help bolster employment within the state’s health care and aviation industries.

The U.S. Department of Labor grant will support apprenticeship programs, which the state hopes will encourage more companies to hire Alaska residents, The Alaska Public Radio Network reported (http://bit.ly/2dR6RKw). The programs combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction.

“We’ve gotta do everything we can, and apprenticeship just seems to provide a really good opportunity to get folks on the first ladder and beyond into these careers that are generally good-paying jobs, generally with benefits, and are a family-wage job,” said Ed Flanagan, director of employment and training services for the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Flanagan said health care is particularly important to Alaska, as the field is expected to grow despite the state’s economic struggles.

“Particularly community health workers, which is a new, emerging occupation to coordinate care, reduce costs and reduce readmissions to hospitals and just generally improve the system,” he said.

The health care and social assistance sector is projected to add more than 7,000 jobs by 2024, according to data from the state labor department.

Flanagan said aviation industry jobs can be localized within rural communities and help boost economies.

“They’re bringing them up to Kotzebue from Anchorage, two weeks on, two weeks off,” he said. “Well maybe somebody in Kotzebue could be trained up through apprenticeship to have that job, and it would be a great local job in their own economy.”

The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development is working with the state industry groups Alaska Primary Care Association and Alaska Air Carriers Association to expand apprenticeship opportunities.

The federal money is intended to reduce Alaska’s unemployment rate, which was just below 7 percent as of September.

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Information from: KSKA-FM, http://www.kska.org

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