New Partnership Supports Advanced Manufacturing Careers for Alaskans

Vigor and Maritime Works announce partnership to train a new generation of advanced manufacturing workers in Alaska.

January 30, 2017

Vigor, Alaska’s largest shipbuilder and ship repair expert, along with leaders of Alaska’s maritime industry, Maritime Works, jointly announced plans for an innovative training program aimed at developing an advanced manufacturing workforce comprised of Alaska residents.

Photo of young Alaskan Worker

This bold public, private and philanthropic initiative is called Advancing Alaskan Workers and it is essential to combatting the high turnover rates seen at the Ketchikan shipyard and elsewhere that result when non-Alaskans are recruited to fill the critical skills gap in our state.

In 2016 Vigor employed 191 people at the Ketchikan Shipyard (KSY), up substantially from just 21 employees in 1994. With large contracts to build two Alaska-class ferries for the Alaska Marine Highway System - and other large projects forecasted for the future - Vigor and Maritime Works are taking proactive steps to build a skilled local workforce to meet the demand.

“The maritime sector holds great promise for the future of our state,” said Doug Ward, Director of Shipyard Development at Vigor. “To realize that promise we must have a stable, best-in-class Alaska resident workforce which will enable us to win more contracts and in turn provide a steady flow of work for our community.”

The Advancing Alaskan Workers project offers structured on-the-job training, leading to industry-recognized credentials and family wage careers. “This is key to providing sustainable opportunities for Alaskans in the Ketchikan workforce as well as providing Vigor’s current workforce a path for upgrading skills, advancing to leadership positions and higher earnings,” says Cari-Ann Carty, spokesperson for Maritime Works. Carty is the Executive Director of the Alaska Process Industry Careers Consortium (APICC), an industry backed nonprofit, which serves as staff and fiscal agent for Maritime Works.

Vigor has long been a national leader in training the next generation of maritime and industrial workers, developing curriculum, partnering with educational institutions and providing structured on the job training. Joining forces with Maritime Works in Alaska is an important next step for growing its work in Alaska.

Advancing Alaskan Workers is only one initiative aimed at increasing the number of Alaskans employed in the Maritime Sector. The employers leading Maritime Works are investing in innovative programs to address a shortage of qualified Alaskan workers in seafood harvesting, processing, and marine transportation. They are pooling industry dollars with public funds, and partnering with other stakeholders - like the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the University of Alaska, Alaska Construction Academies, Alaska Native groups, and others - to strengthen the local workforce.

Vigor and the Ketchikan Shipyard are a logical place for Maritime Works’ first major project launch. The company is committed to the community and has been providing on-site training for their workers for years. Employees are excited about the training - with more than 50 employees registering in just the first week. "My goal is to learn as much as I can and make myself indispensable," says Paul Fletcher, a machinist, crane operator, and shipbuilder at Vigor.


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Maritime Works Overview

About Vigor
Vigor is a leading provider of shipbuilding, ship repair and complex fabrication. With 2,500 employees and ten locations in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, all Vigor companies share common goals: providing world-class maritime and industrial services to build the products customers need, to build the family-wage career opportunities craftspeople deserve, and to strengthen the communities where Vigor employees live and work.

About Maritime Works
Maritime Works (formerly referred to as the Industry Advisory Committee) is a network of committed individuals who participate in advancing maritime workforce development, with the support of their organizations. There are several principles that have been effectively used by Maritime Works:

  • Collaboration is key to coordinating successful employment outcomes across the silos of employers, training and education service providers, governmental agencies, and legislative offices.
  • Successful outcomes are measured by family wage careers for Alaskans and resident and productive workforces for Alaska’s employers.
  • Jobs driven, employer led workforce improvement initiatives are key to successful outcomes.