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New Workforce Data Highlights UA’s Impact on Preparing Students for Alaska Jobs

Feb 4, 2021 | Education, News

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An in-depth analysis of nine major Alaska industries captures the impact that university programs have in preparing its students for jobs in Alaska’s workforce.

The reports answer key questions related to the largest and fastest growing occupations that require some postsecondary education and highlights important employment indicators such as average wages earned, where UA grads work in Alaska, what industries they work in, and how they help boost the Alaska hire rate.

The workforce development and institutional research offices at the University of Alaska partnered with the Research and Analysis Section in the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development to create the reports, which demonstrate UA graduate outcomes in nine key fields—administration and finance, aviation, construction, fisheries and marine science, health, information technology, mining, oil and gas, and teacher education. The reports can be found at https://www.alaska.edu/research/wd/reports.php.

“We are in the business of creating Alaska’s workforce,” UA Interim President Pat Pitney told the Senate Education Committee on February 3, adding that 70 to 90 percent of UA graduates stay in Alaska and find employment.

The health report, for example, shows that of more than 2,300 nursing graduates in both 2-year and 4-year programs, 89 percent remain in Alaska after graduation and are employed at an average wage of $70,000.

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Teri Cothren, University of Alaska Associate Vice President Workforce Development, said: “This data demonstrates the success of our core programs and how we are contributing to Alaska’s high‐demand industries and economy.” 

In preparing the reports, the university analyzed labor market information to identify the largest and fastest-growing occupations in the nine industries, then linked related UA programs to those jobs. Detailed employment and wage information was extracted from employer quarterly reports filed with the Department of Labor. That means the numbers are based on a comprehensive match of all graduates who remain and work in Alaska.

“The economic value of training and education is abundantly clear in the data,” said Dan Robinson, Chief Labor Research & Analysis, Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. “More education and training also correlate strongly with lower unemployment rates.”  

Median earnings, for example, jumped from $35,328 for high school graduates to $44,619 for Alaskans with an associate degree, $57,708 for those with a bachelor’s degree, and $77,402 for holders of graduate or professional degrees. 

“The university is in the business of providing a path for upward mobility for Alaskans,” Pitney said.

“With more than 200 programs linked to jobs in the state, students have opportunities to earn everything from certifications to associate, bachelors, and graduate degrees. These programs are in high-demand fields and are needed to stabilize Alaska’s economic recovery and future growth.”

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Each workforce report features a table of available UA programs related to key occupations within each industry, and students can match UA programs to occupations in the highest demand industries. This provides students a fast track to employment and the opportunity to earn credits toward future degrees. 

UA will utilize these reports to:

  • inform program‐level decisions, 

  • expand industry partnerships to provide opportunities for current students and future graduates, 

  • enhance recruitment, advise students, and partner with school districts to develop or strengthen career pathways between secondary and postsecondary, and, 

  • demonstrate to donors and industry partners the impact of investment in UA’s workforce programs. 

“Working with our stakeholders, UA can expand partnerships to benefit these key workforce sectors and provide even more opportunities for current students and future graduates,” Cothren said.

Through its three separately accredited universities, thirteen community campuses, and distance delivered programs, UA works to ensure that Alaskans have access to attain the knowledge and skills needed for employment and to advance their careers.

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Alaska Business has been celebrating the corporations that have a significant impact on Alaska’s economy since 1993. At the time, the corporations weren’t ranked as the list didn’t have specific ranking criteria. Instead, the Alaska Business editorial team held long, detailed, and occasionally passionate discussions about which organizations around the state were providing jobs, owned or leased property, used local vendors, demonstrated a high level of community engagement, and in general enriched Alaska.

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