Leaders discuss workforce development in Alaska, Pacific Northwest

By: Maggie Wilson Posted: 11/08/2018

Recap: Alaska Business Forum

Building a strong workforce is a challenge for businesses across the board in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. On Thursday, our Alaska Business Forum on workforce development explored how issues like outmigration, revolving door employees, a graying workforce, and properly training new hires are affecting the way we do business and how we shape growing industries.

Attendees joined us to hear from Alaskan leaders on how to address these issues, and how to develop a better workforce for the future.

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Highlights by speaker:

  •   Cari-Ann Carty, Executive Director of Alaska Process Industry Careers Consortium
Carty spoke about the state of Alaska's economy and workforce. “The good news it that we’re losing less jobs," Carty said about a regional recession's impact on Alaska. 

She noted the oil and gas industries are indicative of the health of other industries. If oil and gas are losing, other industries will be losing, too, she said. One bright spot is healthcare, which Carty mentioned as a growing economic sector in Alaska. 

Issues Carty noted included outmigration of younger people, loss in occupations like reporters and administrative assistants as technological advancements change job roles, and an aging workforce. "Our workforce is just getting older," she said.

Carty expressed the joy that working with Alaska's workforce brings her. "I live and breathe workforce development," she said, sharing that she was born and raised in Alaska. "Our vision is that Alaskan workers are fully prepared to meet the needs of industries."

She also spoke on work with Alaska reentry programs that help reduce recidivism and provide training and opportunity to people who need second chances

  •  Emily Kegel, HR Manager at Trident Seafoods Corporation
Kegel talked about the benefits of having loyal and long-term employees who are provided with pathways for internal promotion.

She discussed the value of employees who have been with their companies for years, accumulating company knowledge – and the importance of appreciating them while remaining conscious of their eventual departures through retirement. 

Trident has a very large presence throughout Alaska, Kegel noted, but also has significant occupation in other areas of the country. 

That's part of what has made Trident so successful, she said, diversifying and not putting all of their eggs in one basket.

Another part of Kegel's presentation was devoted to the significance of providing people across the country with the knowledge of the types of job paths available with Trident. The jobs Trident offers provide viable career paths that are outside of conventional education pathways.

Kegel mentioned recurring interview events Trident offers; read more here. She said she also works to ensure interns and new employees are connecting with other employees and interns, and are having good on-boarding experiences. 

“My heart is in Alaska, but my life is in Seattle," Kegel said. "The partnership between all of us is super essential for future success. … It takes all of us to make this happen.”
  •  Greg Till, Senior VP of CHRO Field HR & Talent with Providence St. Joseph Health
Till spoke about the work Providence St. Joseph engages in – monitoring the health of our shared communities. He said an important goal of Providence St. Joseph is providing "healthcare for a better world."

A big portion of the Providence St. Joseph workforce is in Alaska; the organization is also nationwide, but primarily in the Pacific Northwest, Till said. 

In Alaska, Providence St. Joseph is the largest provider of health

The healthcare landscape is changing, Till said, and his organization is working to transform itself with new technologies and innovations, including through providing virtual care

In Alaska, innovation is especially important. The region geographically encounters unique challenges like remoteness and transportation limitations between areas.

"We're really forward-looking," Till said about Providence St. Joseph, adding, "We have something really special at our organization. We're mission-inspired. ... It's led with love."

Till highlighted how serious Providence St. Joseph is in investing in their employees, providing "externships," like paid continued education, so their staff can continue to grow and develop – while employed and contributing to the company.