April 26, 2000             No: 00-46

Contact: Pennelope Goforth        Phone:  907.269.4747

Department of Labor and Workforce Development

News Release

DOL/Seafood Industry Combine Forces to Promote Job Opportunities

Keeping Alaskans in a job and providing seafood processors with a skilled workforce are the goals of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development's Traveling Seafood Workforce 2000 project. For a second consecutive year, the department will be involved in helping move laid-off workers in Bristol Bay to plants operating in Southeast Alaska and other areas of the state. The project is the result of a collaboration between state labor officials and seafood industry representatives to solve existing worker shortages during Alaska's salmon season.

"Traveling Seafood Workforce 2000 helps us fulfill our mission of giving qualified workers, especially Alaskans, the opportunity for continuous employment in one of Alaska's largest seasonal industries," Labor Commissioner Ed Flanagan said. "We have in Alaska a labor pool comprised of highly motivated, experienced workers with proven skills and abilities. By mobilizing workers, we can provide the industry with the kind of people it needs to produce quality Alaska seafood products for a worldwide market."

From June 26 to July 21, Labor's Seafood Employment Unit will operate a temporary Job Center out of the Bristol Bay Borough Office in Naknek. (Historically, the Bristol Bay salmon season begins mid-June and ends between July 15th and July 20th.) Equipped with a fax, telephone and an Internet connection, this office will serve the community and seafood industry by helping seafood workers from the Naknek/King Salmon area, who have completed their contracts, move on to new jobs where workers are still needed to process salmon.

"I'm glad the service will be available to folks in the Borough this season," said Bristol Bay Borough Manager Jeff Currier. "The office will provide opportunities for people to find jobs not only here but statewide."

To accommodate the needs of the seafood industry employers, two Labor employment specialists will be on-call in Naknek during the peak of the salmon-processing season arranging for other seafood companies to hire those workers no longer needed in Bristol Bay.

Norquest Seafoods participated in the program last year and was very happy with the results, according to Jim Hutsinpiller, director of human resources at the Seattle-based company. "We think this is a great example of the state of Alaska utilizing its resources to benefit the seafood industry, and look forward to participating in the expanded program this year," Hutsinpiller said.

Many of the seafood companies in the Naknek/King Salmon area pay the transportation costs for workers who complete their season-long contracts as do companies operating elsewhere in the state. The Traveling Seafood Worker program coordinates the employment of workers, often reducing travel costs saving the processing companies money while increasing the employment opportunities of trained Alaska workers.

For more information, contact Pennelope Goforth, State seafood employment specialist, at (907) 269-4747 or by email j_pennelope_goforth@labor.state.ak.us or Laurie Fuglvog, Seafood Employment Analyst, at (907) 465-5955, or by email laurie_fuglvog@labor.state.ak.us

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