Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Newly appointed University of Alaska President Pat Pitney made her first State of the University address Thursday at the Juneau Chamber of Commerce weekly luncheon.
She said Alaska is at a really critical juncture right now. "Over the past eight years our working age population has dropped by 30,000. At the same time, to take advantage of the federal infrastructure package we see coming down the road soon, we expect to see 10,000 to 14,000 new jobs. Couple those numbers with the reality that Alaska's wages are no longer the highest in the nation and in many areas we are barely average with a less than average retirement"
Pitney said every other state is moving fast to hire people to capitalize on their infrastructure package opportunities. "We are not in the position we were in the 70s, 80s and 90s where we imported our workforce. This means we have to grow our own." She added that the University of Alaska is well positioned to prepare Alaskans for those jobs."
President Pitney identified the key areas that will command her attention in the coming year. They include increasing student enrollment leading to jobs; developing workforce and focused economic development initiatives; promoting arctic policy, research and leadership; strengthening teacher education programs; advancing the Alaska Native Success Initiative; building finance industry partnerships to expand Alaska business workforce; increasing fisheries and ocean sciences presence in Southeast Alaska; and revising business models for efficiency and modernization.