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Training construction workers with a variety of skills By Rindi White


rom road construction to building new sewer and water utility lines, construction of new vertical buildings to building pipelines for gas and oil, the Alaska Laborers union supplies workers around the state. Recently, Alaska Laborers’ apprentices have had an important job—building their own training schools in Fairbanks and Chugiak.

Keeping a Ready Workforce

Like many other unions, Laborers is facing a deficit of workers when baby boomers retire in the coming decade. However, through its apprenticeship training program, the union is working to replenish its ranks and keep a trained labor force at the ready for large projects. The Alaska Laborers Training School serves two union organizations—the Fairbanks-based Laborers Local 942 and the Anchorage-based Laborers Local 341. The school operates training facilities—both of them newly built—in both locations. The school also has apprentices who work in Southeast Alaska but travel to Anchorage for the four-week training period. Each year, between 200 and 240 people apply for fifty to sixty spots in the Laborer’s Training School, says Anchorage Apprenticeship Coordinator Mike Piekarski. “Basically the projected work dictates how many brand-new apprentices we take in,” he says. The training school is funded by contributions from contractors, so apprentices don’t have to pay out-of-pocket for the training. The contribution amount is specified by collaborative agreement between the contractors and the union hiring hall, Piekarski says, adding: “It’s a benefit for certain jobs.”

A Grateful Apprentice

Third-year apprentice Kyle Colvin says becoming an apprentice has been a blessing to him, one he shares with his family and friends. Alaska Laborers Union Apprentices learning multi-plate excavation. Courtesy of Alaska Laborers Union

March 2016 | Alaska Business Monthly


Alaska Business Monthly March 2016  
Alaska Business Monthly March 2016  

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