Employers at a meeting with the state Juneau Job Center said they would like to have more of a say in how the center deals with issues facing them.
The Juneau Job Center, part of the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, hosted its first employer summit Oct. 17 at Centennial Hall. About 40 local employers discussed with staff of the job center what it can do to help businesses that hire in Juneau.
"We want to do a better job serving employers," said Deborah Craig, a program coordinator for the center. "We also want to let employees know the kinds of services we provide."
The Juneau Job Center helps people find a job, create a resume, prepare for an interview and train for a new career. It helps employers find qualified workers and provides access to Alaska's wage rate information and economic trends.
Employers at the meeting focused on three actions the job center can take to help employers in town, Craig said. The center can better market its resources, make sure applicants are prepared and applications are accurate, and allow for more employer participation on the center's advisory committee, which meets on a monthly basis.
The Department of Labor operates 22 job centers across the state. Summits also will take place this year in Ketchikan, Fairbanks, Kenai and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.
"Basically, the challenges faced by Juneau employers are attracting and retaining qualified personnel," said Craig.
Larry Johansen, the Southeast regional manager for Alaska Sightseeing, a division of Cruise West, said he attended the summit to check out the local resources for hiring staff.
"Hiring locally is our first priority," Johansen said. "The Juneau Job Center is one of our best allies in helping to identify possible employees."
Mark Beattie, the human resource systems administrator at Bartlett Regional Hospital, said the summit was a good way for the Juneau Job Center to highlight changes it has made in the last few years.
"They've changed their approach pretty dramatically," Beattie said.
Neal Gilbertsen, the Southeast economist at the state Department of Labor, said the number of people employed in Juneau has grown since 1992, while the employment rate in the rest of Southeast has shrunk.
The bulk of Juneau's jobs, though, has moved from wood products and seafood to health care and social services, a trend that eventually could be problematic for Juneau, he said.
"As we lose the primary industries such as fisheries and logging, why are people going to be here?" Gilbertsen said at the summit.
Christine Schmid can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.