December 21, 2004
Governor Frank H. Murkowski joined Alaska Department of Labor Commissioner Greg O'Claray, Health and Social Services Commissioner Joel Gilbertson, Deputy Commissioner Bill Noll of the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, labor leaders and some of Alaska's biggest employers at the Gambell Job Center in Anchorage, for the kick-off of a new administration initiative focused on putting Alaskans to work in good paying jobs.
Governor Murkowski put the focus on Alaska's youth.
"Each year about 10,000 young Alaskans are ready to enter the workforce," Murkowski said. "My goal as governor with my resource development and economic development agenda is to make sure good paying, long-term jobs are there for them."
"I promised to use of the power of the governor's office to help link private sector investment with public-sector opportunities," Murkowski said. "This initiative does just that to produce new jobs."
Commissioner O'Claray announced specifics of the governor's jobs initiative. "We're turning the department of labor into Alaska's biggest hiring hall," O'Claray said. "The highest priority of the department for the next two years is making sure we train Alaskans for jobs coming down the pike on the gas pipeline, in maritime transportation and in construction trades."
O'Claray said the department is focusing its efforts on three things: job training for youth; making sure Alaska businesses hire Alaskans; and aggressive outreach to employers and job seekers promoting the professional resources available at Alaska's 24 state job centers.
"We're about results," O'Claray said. "About matching the needs of employers with Alaskans willing and able to fill Alaska jobs."
O'Claray announced the state is moving toward a joint agreement with the Marine Exchange of Alaska to train mariners to fill job vacancies for all major water carriers in the state. "The goal is to increase the number of Alaskans employed in the maritime industry," he said.
O'Claray also spotlighted training of a new generation of pipeline construction "hands" in anticipation of the impending Alaska gas pipeline project and potential development in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPRA), Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) and Western Alaska's petroleum potential.
Governor Murkowski thanked labor leaders for their cooperation with a recent training program in Fairbanks that graduated about 100 new apprentice pipeline construction workers.
"Thirty-four of these apprentices came from rural Alaskan villages," Murkowski said. "These bright young people are beginning careers that will pay dividends for a lifetime."
"We're 'Alaskanizing' the workforce," O'Claray said. "That's what our 'Jobs for Alaska's Future' campaign is all about."
The governor also praised the success of the state's welfare to work program.
"The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services was awarded $3.18 million in bonus funds recently for outstanding performance in moving welfare recipients into the workforce," he said.
Health and Social Services Commissioner Joel Gilbertson provided details on his department's efforts to enhance its welfare-to-work program.
Gilbertson said the number of families relying on Temporary Assistance has decreased 50 percent since Alaska implemented welfare reform. "We're playing an important role in helping Alaskans get back into the workforce."
"All of the state's efforts combined," Murkowski said, "are adding up to jobs for Alaska's future."
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