Business/Economy

State closes vocational school's satellite campus in Anchorage

The state is closing the Anchorage satellite campus of Alaska's Institute of Technology — also called the Alaska Vocational Technical Center, or AVTEC — due to budget cuts.

Monday will be its last day of operation, the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development announced in a written statement.

The school's main campus is in Seward. AVTEC has training programs in maritime, welding, information technology and other fields.

The closure of the Muldoon Road campus means the end of AVTEC's certified nursing assistant and medical assistant programs. Other nursing programs there were shut down in 2015.

The AVTEC news follows an announcement last week that the Kotzebue Job Center, also run by the Labor Department, will close this month. The department has seen cuts of 33 percent to its state general funds in two years.

"One thing we need in Alaska is … more skilled workers," said Labor Commissioner Heidi Drygas. "We have a much more difficult time doing that (training) when we don't have the funds to do that."

And when it comes to job centers closing, Drygas said, the public should be prepared that "there will probably be more." Such centers, which help people with job searches, resume writing, interview skills and filing unemployment insurance, closed in Barrow and Seward last year.

Drygas is particularly frustrated that health care training programs are ending at a time when that sector is adding jobs in Alaska.

"It is frustrating and disappointing to close a campus that trains Alaskans for rewarding careers in a fast-growing industry like health care," she said in a statement.

Drygas is also concerned about how budget cuts will hit the department's occupational safety and health and wage and hour divisions.

"We have an obligation to protect the public," she said over the phone, "and it makes our job so much more difficult when you don't have boots on the ground to do these types of inspections."

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