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Alaska Laborers Union Apprentices learning sandblasting. Photo courtesy of Alaska Laborers Union

Colvin graduated high school in 2012 and, like many recent graduates, was taking part-time jobs for minimal pay. A family friend who is an Alaska Laborers member called him and suggested the apprenticeship program. It was a good choice for someone who liked to work, the friend said. For Colvin, it’s been a blessing.

“There’s not a lot of twenty-one-yearolds who have the best medical benefits, the best dental, and who get paid really well,” he says. “I’m making way more [money] than anybody I know right now, which is something I’m proud to say.” Colvin says it’s neat to feel like he’s part of something bigger than just himself— having the opportunity to work on projects

that will last for generations. This winter, Colvin was thankful for the apprenticeship for another reason. He tore the labrum on his dominant shoulder, an injury that sidelined him until he could get surgery and promised to sideline him at least another couple months afterward. But unlike a lot of twenty-one-year-olds, he has medical insurance that covers much of the bill. And he has the money to pay the outof-pocket medical costs, too, he says. “We get paid very well for what we do, but it’s a lot of hard work. I don’t mind the hard work because it’s worth it,” he says.

Photo courtesy of Alaska Laborers Union

Teaching on Their Home Turf

Alaska Laborers Union Apprentices learning asphalt work at the Alaska Zoo alongside Alaska Laborers. 34

The Laborers Training School is slightly different from other unions in that it teaches apprentices a broader scope of skills. On a job site, laborers might be responsible for several types of jobs, including erecting scaffolding, pouring concrete, drilling and blasting, plotting road courses, and erosion control. Getting each apprentice through the apprenticeship while also giving them a solid base of knowledge in each disparate field can be a challenge, training school officials say. “In an ideal world, we’d like to give everyone equal [time] in all those facets, but the reality is, the apprentice will get the most experience where there is work. However, we do try to ensure they are wellrounded in job experiences and training,”

Alaska Business Monthly | March 2016www.akbizmag.com

Alaska Business Monthly March 2016  

“Forever Alaskan” Carol Gore, president and CEO of Cook Inlet Housing Authority, is a quintessential leader in creating affordable housing f...

Alaska Business Monthly March 2016  

“Forever Alaskan” Carol Gore, president and CEO of Cook Inlet Housing Authority, is a quintessential leader in creating affordable housing f...