State's resources will provide future jobs

Posted: Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I want to complement Glenn Haight on his opinion in Friday's Empire. Having lived in Craig for the last 35 years, I have witnessed firsthand many of our brightest students go off to college to get their degrees only to find out that job opportunities are outside the state, or at best, in one of Alaska's larger communities far from the rural setting they grew up in.

I don't want to imply that students shouldn't pursue a higher education because those that choose to should, and they should be given every opportunity to do so.

My concern, like Glenn Haight's, is the lack of focus on how this education can be directed toward livelihoods in this state. And more specifically, the lack of emphasis on the majority of the young workforce whose best shot at a good paying job is in the trades or one of the many homegrown Alaskan occupations.

To my delight, at last night's city council meeting a group of Craig High School students did a presentation on this very thing. They had just returned from a trip to Sitka, Juneau, Seward and Anchorage. On this trip they met with the various trade unions, visited the Seward Vocational School, the Kensington mine, and the Trooper Academy.

These young people were enthusiastic about the training and job opportunities that were available to them in this state, and that there were a number of fields they could pursue that would allow them to remain in Craig.

Most of the well-paying jobs in Alaska are directly related to, or are in some way a spin off of, natural resource development. Access to and the responsible development of Alaska's resources is a key component to the state's overall economic health, and as well, for providing a future for young people in rural Alaskan communities.

Dennis Watson



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