Reverse the Great Alaska Brain Drain
I suggest two inexpensive methods to increase Alaska’s workforce. The first is to retain more of our thousands of seasonal and military personnel. The second is to recruit more interns.
Bring back summer and military workers
In the August 30 Anchorage Daily News, Bill Popp of Anchorage Economic Development Corp. wrote that 34% of our young people between the ages of 16 and 26 are leaving for the Lower 48 and our labor pool is shrinking. One way to reverse this trend is to make better use of our large and growing labor sources.
Every year, thousands of summer workers arrive. Once their tourist or fishing jobs are done, they leave quickly to keep their summer savings. If there was a central database where seasonal workers could post their resumes and interests before they headed south, then employers could interview them in person for current jobs and those that would be available after graduation. of their degree.
Organizations such as the State Chamber of Commerce, the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, or the Business Enterprise Institute at the University of Alaska Anchorage could create the foundation for central data.
Military personnel and their family members should be able to register in a similar database that would provide the opportunity to interview for current and future jobs in the military before leaving for other assignments. They’ve been exposed to our weather conditions for far longer than a summer, so if they’re interested and later offered work, there’s an even better chance they’ll become long-term Alaskans. .
Internships lead to returnees
People generally come here for work, not for their lifestyle. We need to build on that by providing more work. Private, academic, and government employers may offer more summer internships to Alaska students attending outside institutions as well as nonresident students.
The state Department of Labor and Workforce Development should have a program in which every student in Alaska who attends college outside should have the opportunity to come back for summer employment. or an internship. Alaska Post-Secondary Education Loan Programs should communicate with its borrowing students about internship and part-time work programs.
Programs should prioritize Alaskan students, but should also be widely publicized to nonresidents. Many interns will return as residents. This is how I and many initially non-resident professionals were introduced to Alaska and returned. Simply put: more internships equals more skilled workers in the long run.
Heat waves, droughts, brownouts, traffic jams, smoky skies make living in Alaska comparatively more attractive than ever compared to living outside, so more interns will eventually come back.
Engineering, surveying and environmental companies could offer both indoor and outdoor work. Medical and professional services companies as well as government and institutions could employ interns. Organizations such as the Business Enterprise Institute, the state Department of Labor, the Small Business Administration, and the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation could help develop internships.
Reversing the brain drain will help everyone in our economy. Better communication opportunities and the creation of more internships are good places to jump-start this process.
Miles Schlosberg is a long-time businessman and landowner in Alaska.
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