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Alaska Telecommunications Leaders Partner to Encourage Alaskans to Consider Telecom Careers

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Matanuska Telecom Association (MTA) and Alaska Communications are partnering to promote telecom careers in Alaska. This collaboration supports the NECA/IBEW’s Alaska Joint Electrical Apprenticeship and Training Trust (AJEATT), offering hands-on and classroom training for electrical and telecom jobs. With $2 billion in federal funding for rural broadband, and MTA and Alaska Communications securing significant grants, the partnership aims to address the growing need for skilled telecom workers in the state. Apprentices receive free schooling, competitive salaries, and job placements, potentially earning $90,000 annually with additional benefits.

The initiative aims to close the digital divide in underserved Alaskan communities by constructing new fiber networks. Training centers in Anchorage and Fairbanks will facilitate this development. Leaders from the telecom industry emphasize the importance of this program in ensuring connectivity and job growth within Alaska.

Positive
  • MTA and Alaska Communications initiative addressing the telecom workforce shortage in Alaska.
  • Federal broadband funding of nearly $2 billion designated for rural Alaska.
  • MTA awarded a USDA Grant Project for over 50 miles of fiber construction in Tyonek and Beluga.
  • Alaska Communications' partners have received over $100 million for high-speed broadband in 15 communities.
  • Apprenticeship program offers free schooling, competitive salaries, and job placements.
  • Graduates of the program can earn about $90,000 annually, plus healthcare, paid time off, and a pension.
  • Significant efforts to close Alaska's digital divide and improve connectivity.
Negative
  • Dependence on federal funding and grants for broadband projects, which may be subject to changes.
  • Potential challenges in meeting the high demand for skilled telecom workers despite the training programs.
  • Logistical and geographical challenges in deploying telecom infrastructure in rural and remote Alaskan areas.

More telecom workers are needed to meet the job demands in Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Matanuska Telecom Association (MTA) and Alaska Communications are partnering up in an effort to address the need for telecom workers across Alaska.

Pictured: Apprentices Amanda and Chris are featured in a campaign launched by Alaska Communications and Matanuska Telecom Association (MTA). (Photo: Business Wire)

Pictured: Apprentices Amanda and Chris are featured in a campaign launched by Alaska Communications and Matanuska Telecom Association (MTA). (Photo: Business Wire)

The partnership is in support of NECA/IBEW’s Alaska Joint Electrical Apprenticeship and Training Trust (AJEATT). The trust, commonly referred to as electrical apprenticeship school, provides hands-on classroom and on-the-job training for a variety of electrical jobs, including telecommunications.

Nearly $2 billion in federal broadband funding is earmarked to connect rural Alaska to the internet. MTA was awarded a USDA Grant Project in Tyonek and Beluga. This project will construct over 50 miles of fiber, bringing Alaska closer to its goal of closing the digital divide.

Alaska Communications’ partners have received more than $100 million so far to build reliable, high-speed fiber broadband in 15 communities along the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers.

“With a surge of new projects coming to our state, it’s a critical time to grow the telecom workforce in Alaska,” said Matt McConnell, president and CEO of Alaska Communications. "By teaming up with MTA to promote AJEATT, we aim to boost interest and grow the number of highly skilled professionals. In my opinion, there’s no better training opportunity than provided by the union. We want more Alaskans to consider these important trade careers which directly improve lives in our communities.”

“When it comes to connectivity, Alaska is significantly underserved. There is a lot of work to do to close the digital divide and we want to make sure we’re developing the next generation of telecom professionals,” said Michael Burke, CEO of MTA. “This partnership underscores our commitment to keeping jobs in Alaska and entrusting them to our own people."

Through the partnership, MTA and Alaska Communications are actively promoting and encouraging entry into the apprenticeship school, with a focus on telecommunications.

Apprenticeship school consists of a series of eight-week classroom sessions and on-the-job training. Classes are held at the Electrical Training Centers in Anchorage and Fairbanks. Classroom learning is paired with on-the-job training, meaning students become apprentice employees at companies such as Alaska Communications and MTA and receive real workforce experience through the program. Apprentices in the program receive free schooling and are paid a competitive salary throughout their classroom and on-the-job training. On average, a newly graduated telecom worker through this program will make about $90,000 plus healthcare, paid time off and a pension.

“It’s great to have such strong industry collaboration among thought leaders in the telecommunications industry,” said Melissa Caress, statewide training director, AJEATT. “We’re proud to offer a world-class training program tailored to the telecommunications industry and in particular new fiber techniques.”

Through MTA, work is available throughout Eagle River, the Matanuska Susitna Valley and interior Alaska. Through Alaska Communications, work is available in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Kenai Peninsula and beyond supporting bush communities.

“Several telecom megaprojects are underway as part of an unprecedented effort to connect all Alaskans. This is an exciting time because we have the federal and state resources needed to really move the needle on broadband access,” said Christine O’Connor, executive director of the Alaska Telecom Association. “I applaud these industry giants in our state for working together and thinking outside of the box to find creative solutions for the benefit of fellow Alaskans.”

For information about applying to the apprenticeship school for telecom work, visit https://alaskaelectricalapprenticeship.org/job-classifications/telecom.

About MTA

Established in 1953, as a 100% Alaskan owned and operated telecom cooperative, MTA is Alaska's best choice for technology and communications products. As a key player in the economy of Southcentral and Interior Alaska, MTA provides business technology solutions to empower member-owners and patrons to live a connected life. Today, MTA remains as one of the largest telecommunication co-ops in the United States and proudly employs more than 400 Alaskans. For more information, visit www.mtasolutions.com or connect with MTA on Facebook.

About Alaska Communications

Alaska Communications, an affiliate of ATN International, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATNI), is the leading provider of advanced broadband and managed IT services for businesses and consumers in Alaska. The company operates a highly reliable, advanced statewide data network with the latest technology and the most diverse undersea fiber optic system connecting Alaska to the contiguous U.S. For more information, visit www.AlaskaCommunications.com.

About AJEATT

The Alaska Joint Electrical Apprenticeship and Training Trust is a joint partnership between The Alaska Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association and The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1547. Learn more about the apprenticeship school at https://alaskaelectricalapprenticeship.org/. Specific information about a telecom apprenticeship is available here: https://alaskaelectricalapprenticeship.org/job-classifications/telecom.

Heidi Embley

Embley Communications

heidi@embleycommunications.com

Source: Alaska Communications

FAQ

What is the partnership between MTA and Alaska Communications about?

MTA and Alaska Communications are partnering to promote telecommunications careers and address the workforce shortage in Alaska.

How much federal funding is allocated for rural broadband in Alaska?

Nearly $2 billion in federal funding is earmarked for connecting rural Alaska to the internet.

What grants have MTA and Alaska Communications secured?

MTA received a USDA grant for over 50 miles of fiber construction in Tyonek and Beluga, and Alaska Communications' partners have secured over $100 million for broadband in 15 communities.

What benefits do apprentices in the training program receive?

Apprentices receive free schooling, competitive salaries, healthcare, paid time off, and a pension, with potential earnings of $90,000 annually.

Where are the training centers for the apprenticeship program located?

The training centers are located in Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska.

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