PUBLISHED: 4:01 PM on Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Building a future for Juneau's workforce
Juneau Construction Academy offers free construction classes
Starting in February a multitude of local students may be building their way to a brighter future.

A booming demand for workers in the building industry, and a growing pool of young people looking for a new career has laid the foundation for the Juneau Construction Academy. The Academy, open for the first time this year, will provide free construction training and job placement assistance to adults and high school students. Built in the image of last year's successful pilot project in Anchorage, the Juneau Academy is one of six being funded by the legislature.

In 2006, AGC, Anchorage Home Builders Association, Alaska State Home Builders Association, ASD, AWP, AKDOLWD and CIRI created this pilot project to offer Anchorage High School students and adults training for first jobs in construction and trade apprenticeship programs.

"It's very significant that the state and legislature are committing unprecedented funds, it's gratifying to see the state stepping up," said Ed Flanagan the Coordinator of Alaska Works Partnership, a non profit and the primary partner with

Courtesy Photo
  Joe Eller drills metal in during a construction course last year.
UAS for the classes being offered here in Southeast.

Governor Palin and legislators appropriated $3.5 million in the 2008 capital budget to continue this academy in Anchorage and begin academies in other Alaska Home Building Association communities.

In order to help prepare Alaskan workers for opportunities in the construction industry, classes in carpentry, drywall finishing, plumbing and heating and welding will be offered free of charge. The adult program classes, offered to ages 18 and over will be held on Saturdays and week nights to better accommodate a working schedule.

The high school program is offered to Juneau Douglas High School and Yaakoosgé Daakahídi students, who can earn high school and UAS credits. Local partners include Southeast Alaska Building Industry Association, Alaska Works Partnership, local unions, The Learning Connection, Associated General Contractors, University of Alaska Southeast, Juneau School District, and the Juneau Job Center.

"The program went well in Anchorage last year and it looks like there is a good chance it will do well here too," Flanagan said. "Construction is always in demand. A lot of people don't realize it's the second highest paying industry in the state." In fact more than 1,000 construction workers are needed each year to meet construction growth and replace retiring workers.

Courtesy Photo
  Skylur Petersen of Yakutat practices with a handsaw.
"When a Natural Gas Pipeline is built, thousands of additional construction workers will be needed," said Carin Smolin, the Career and Technical Education Coordinator at the Juneau School District.

This state effort to build the workforce is important to prepare people for jobs in the industry.

"Construction isn't for everyone, its hard work and mostly outside, but if it's right for you it's a great industry," said Flanagan, who also pointed out that many people don't think about construction as a career option after a certain age. This is a good way to get students at the high school stage to take note of their options.

The high school courses, offered for any in school youth include:

• Basic Construction, Jan. 22-March 13, 3-5 p.m.,


• Welding, March 24-

April 30, 3-5 p.m., MTWTH

• CAD 1, March 24-April

30, 3-5 p.m. TWTH

• All courses require some Saturdays

The adult courses offered at UAS TEC or facilitated by AWP instructors are managed by SERRC's Learning Connection program to serve 30 or more people. These include:

• Basic construction (50

hours), Feb. 2-Mar. 1 (MW 6-9 p.m., S 9-3 p.m.)

• Drywall finishing (32

hours), Mar. 3-15 (MW 6-9 p.m., S 9-3 p.m.)

• Residential Plumbing

and Heating (50 hours), Mar. 24-April 23 (MW 6-9 p.m., S 9-3 p.m.)

• Welding (24 horrs),

March, TBA

• Short courses/certifica

tions: OSHA 10, Forklift

Safety, NSTC, Blueprint


• Construction Math refresher offered ongoing

"These courses don't add up to a credential - they are introductory in nature, and are meant to create building blocks for the students future," said Elizabeth Dahl, of the Learning Connection. "After the courses, job placement assistance will be offered as well as help with developing resumes, and we will help steer them in the direction of places offering employment.

"We hope to train 30 adults and hope at least five will enter apprenticeship and hope that a majority will get jobs," said Dahl. People can take more than one class and they do not need a diploma of any kind to take a class.

"We are encouraging both women and men equally to take part in these classes."

Students need only apply and take the TABE test which they can do at the Learning Connection. Deadline is Feb. 22 for classes that start March 3. The deadline for the welding class will most likely be mid-March.

People can apply for these classes now and only need interview once. Applications can be found at SERRC, The Learning Connection downtown, 210 Ferry Way, Juneau Job Center or online at

JDHS students can enroll by calling the Juneau Douglas High School Counseling Office at 523-1613.