Juneau Job Center gears up for mine jobs

About 300 jobs up for grabs for skilled and unskilled workers

Posted: Thursday, July 14, 2005

At age 49, Scooter Edge says she wants to try something different, like working in the construction industry, perhaps for the companies developing the Kensington Mine.

Some 300 jobs will be up for grabs, not just for people with geology degrees, but for office workers, carpenters, electricians, loggers and general construction site laborers, said Ted Burke, training manager at the Juneau Job Center.

The center is helping Edge and other Juneau residents who will do what it takes to get their foot in the door at the mine.

The center was put together in 1996 with the help of the Alaska Department of Labor and federal funding to consolidate a number of job resources under one roof.

Career counselors and staff members offer free advice on resume writing and interviewing skills, plus workshops and other forms of job training. Clients ranging from recent college graduates to seasoned workers to the unemployed frequent the center.

Coeur Alaska, the company that obtained the permits to develop a gold mine near Berners Bay, has already advertised management-level jobs and, along with subcontractors, will be looking to fill several hundred jobs in the coming months.

Burke said Coeur, its subcontractors and Native corporation Goldbelt Inc., tasked with building a road out to a ferry dock to transport people and materials to the mine, have not tallied up exactly how many employees are needed in each field yet, but more job postings should follow as early as next month.

"Once these things get established, it's probably going to bust wide open," Burke said.

Coeur and Goldbelt have said they are committed to hiring as many local people as possible.

The Juneau Job Center, as well as state branch offices in Sitka, Petersburg and Ketchikan, are working to fill that desire for an Alaska work force, helping people like Edge qualify for a job.

Edge has worked in various jobs with the state, but says she lacks knowledge of the construction business. Specialists at the center are teaching her the terminology and office skills she would need for a clerical or administrative position related to construction.

"The resources here are amazing," she said.

From there, Edge hopes she can sprout into other spots on the job site, maybe even operating machinery, she said. If she makes the cut, Edge hopes to seek further employment with Juneau construction companies and one day work on the natural gas pipeline that the state is proposing to build from the North Slope through Canada and to the Midwest states.

The Juneau Job Center has been helping local residents with little to no mining experience get jobs at the Greens Creek Mine. The company recently held recruitment and training workshops at the Mendenhall Valley center, attended by 20 to 30 applicants.

The University of Alaska Southeast's continuing-education program conducted a mining certificate course during the 1990s to prepare job seekers for possible employment at the Greens Creek Mine.

University spokesman Kevin Myers said discussions are ongoing about running another certification course in the near future.

Coeur Alaska and the subcontractors will be attending the Sept. 24 job fair at Centennial Hall looking for employees.

For more information on the Juneau Job Center, call 465-4562 or visit www.jobs.state.ak.us.

• Andrew Petty can be reached at andrew.petty@juneauempire.com

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