The state is receiving up to $8 million in federal funds to provide job retraining for fishermen and seafood industry employees affected by the salmon price decline, the state's labor commissioner said Monday.
"This is targeted really to assist workers to find new or associated employment, and these are not only fishermen, but also those workers that were working for processors," said Greg O'Clary, commissioner of the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
The grant comes from the U.S. Department of Labor, which gives the state agency funds each year to administer training programs. This particular grant is a National Emergency Grant designed to assist workers who can prove their livelihood has been affected by the decline in fish prices and the competition from foreign farmed salmon, said Corine Geldhoff, the deputy director of Labor and Workforce Development's Division of Employment Security.
The state will receive $2 million initially. O'Clary said he wasn't sure how much money would follow or when it would come.
Geldhoff said a lot of Alaska fishermen have tried to apply for aid under the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance Act, which is geared toward firms and not really applicable to the self-employed. The TAA program included a job retraining program.
The state offers many different programs, O'Clary said.
"If a fisherman decided that he was going to have to seek other employment opportunities, he may apply for training assistance, relocation assistance, there's a whole myriad of programs available for that person," he said.
O'Clary said people with maritime experience tend to be excellent candidates for jobs as diesel mechanics or jobs in the Merchant Marine.
Interested workers can pick up application forms from their local state job center. A list of job centers is available at www.jobs.state.ak.us/offices/.