Opinions

Invent your future at UAA

As American computer scientist Alan Kay famously said, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” It should be clear today that the pandemic has changed much. Our workforce is undergoing a tremendous transformation and upheaval, and career opportunities and job possibilities are opening before our very eyes.

There is so much we don’t know yet about what the workforce of tomorrow will look like, but at the University of Alaska Anchorage, we’re providing the tools to help students of all ages and skills chart a new course forward.

The pandemic has created a surge in demand for new health care resources, and our university is Alaska’s largest health care training provider. In response, UAA’s College of Health now offers more than 45 certificates or degree program options in health care. We’re also expanding our capacity to train more nurses, medical assistants, CNAs, sonographers and first responders to help meet Alaska’s health care needs and the growing interest in medical careers.

From the outset of the pandemic, UAA has offered a unique set of community health resources. We’ve trained hundreds of contact tracers for the state of Alaska, served as a clearinghouse for state and local governments for best practices in public health, epidemiology and health care policy, and converted the Alaska Airlines Center into a short-term emergency response space.

Within UAA’s family of campuses across Southcentral Alaska, we offer students a flexible approach to learning in person, online, or a hybrid of the two. Fifty-five percent of our classes are hybrid or wholly online, and 45% are in person.

Beyond health care, people are hitting reset on their careers across a broad range of industries and fields, and turning to UAA for the training they need to grab the next rung. Where people once, almost quaintly, thought we’d work from home during the first few weeks of the pandemic, we’re now seeing record job turnover as people leave their current positions to find a new path, whether the draw is higher wages, more flexibility or remote capabilities. CNBC reports that one in four American workers quit their job in 2021, a substantial increase over even 2019.

UAA offers a broad array of options, including career certificates focused on construction, information technology, bookkeeping, transportation and more. UAA offers nation-leading career and tech programs in aviation, real estate administration and business management. From pastry chefs to welders, UAA gives Alaskans quality education and technical training to foster individual growth and a diverse economy. Recognizing that many Alaskans are making a mid-career change, UAA serves students with flexible full- and part-time programs to meet the time demands of busy lives. Today’s enrollees want to start a new career path without having to wait for a once-a-year start, and many of UAA’s programs can be started in January, May or September.

UAA’s fully accredited programs leverage Anchorage’s role as the state’s hub for transportation, communications, health care, engineering and finance. We have forged numerous collaborative relationships with leading Alaska employers to shape our programs and offer students a mix of classroom and practical experience. Due to our state’s size and distance from other metropolitan areas, UAA offers more than you’ll find at other similarly sized institutions, reflecting the resourcefulness that makes Alaska special and unique.

Communities that are home to a robust university are more resilient during challenging economic times. UAA fuels economic development and drives innovation through insightful research and practical career skills. UAA’s mission is to transform lives through teaching, research, community engagement and creative expression in a diverse and inclusive environment.

Our spring course offerings are now online; registration is underway for current students and open registration begins Nov. 22. Classes start in January. Come invent your future at UAA.

Sean Parnell is chancellor of the University of Alaska Anchorage. He formerly served as governor and lieutenant governor of Alaska.

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