December 17, 2003
The funds will come under a grant signed Monday by U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, which awards up to $8 million in Workforce Investment Act funds to help Alaska's seafood processing workers and fishermen who can no longer earn a living in an industry adversely affected by foreign trade.
"Alaskans in the commercial fishing industry are no strangers to extreme conditions. While they've endured the harsh weather, heavy workload and financial risks of fishing, they cannot be expected to bear the burden of unfair international trade practices on their own," Governor Murkowski said. "These funds will give those Alaskans who want it the opportunity to get the skills and training they need to find new employment opportunities in other industries," said the Governor.
"This is great news of Alaska's salmon fisherman who have faced a many hardships in recent years. I am pleased that this money is being released now with winter upon us. Our fisherman will be able to gain valuable job training as a result of this action," said Senator Ted Stevens upon learning of the grant program.
"This is an injection of good medicine for fishermen overexposed to today's unhealthy salmon market. This will provide at least some fishermen with a way to heal their economic wounds, not just watch the hemorrhage continue," said Senator Lisa Murkowski of the grant.
The grant award follows several years of effort by Governor Murkowski, who as a U.S. Senator along with Senator Ted Stevens in 2002 pursued an agreement between the White House and other federal agencies on a multi-faceted response to provide benefits to Alaskan fishermen, processing workers, and coastal communities over several years.
Two million dollars is being released initially to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development as a National Emergency Grant (NEG) with a total of up to $8 million coming to the department within a two-year period.
The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development is responsible for administering federal employment and training programs. The grant proposal has several components:
A variety of intensive services will be made available through the 23 Alaska Job Centers located across the state. Fishermen, family members and industry processing workers who are eligible as dislocated workers from the salmon industry and who wish to pursue other ways of making a living will be provided a variety of employment, training, job search assistance, and relocation services with these funds.
The project will work in partnership with employers, trainers, other one-stop job center agencies, and vocational, secondary and post-secondary education to improve the opportunities for employment vital to the economy in Alaska's fishing and seafood processing communities.
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