Vigor launches partnership to advance manufacturing careers for Alaskans


The following is the text of a news release from Vigor:

(KETCHIKAN, Alaska) — Vigor, Alaska’s largest shipbuilder and ship repair company, along with leaders of Alaska’s maritime industry, Maritime Works, jointly announced plans for an innovative training program aimed at developing an advanced manufacturing work force comprised of Alaska residents. 

This public, private and philanthropic initiative is called Advancing Alaskan Workers and it is essential to combating the high turnover rates seen at the Ketchikan shipyard and elsewhere that result when non-Alaskans are recruited to fill the critical skills gap in the state. 

In 2016, Vigor employed 191 people at the Ketchikan Shipyard (KSY), up from just 21 employees in 1994. With contracts to build two Alaska-class ferries for the Alaska Marine Highway System — and other large projects forecasted for the future — Vigor and Maritime Works are taking proactive steps to build a skilled local work force to meet the demand.

“The maritime sector holds great promise for the future of our state,” said Doug Ward, director of shipyard development at Vigor. “To realize that promise we must have a stable, best-in-class Alaska resident work force which will enable us to win more contracts and in turn provide a steady flow of work for our community.”

The Advancing Alaskan Workers project offers structured on-the-job training, leading to industry-recognized credentials and family wage careers. “This is key to providing sustainable opportunities for Alaskans in the Ketchikan work force as well as providing Vigor’s current work force a path for upgrading skills, advancing to leadership positions and higher earnings,” said Cari-Ann Carty, spokeswoman for Maritime Works. Carty is the executive director of the Alaska Process Industry Careers Consortium (APICC), an industry backed nonprofit, which serves as staff and fiscal agent for Maritime Works.

The employers leading Maritime Works are investing in innovative programs to address a shortage of qualified Alaskan workers in seafood harvesting, processing and marine transportation. They are pooling industry dollars with public funds, and partnering with other stakeholders — like the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the University of Alaska, Alaska Construction Academies, Alaska Native groups, and others — to strengthen the local work force. 

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By Professional Mariner Staff