ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Alaska-based telecommunications company GCI has launched an innovative workforce development program to encourage Alaska students to pursue a STEM-based education that will lead to challenging, tech-sector careers.
“GCI works hard to recruit the best engineers, software developers and network administrators available, but the competition is tough,” said Craig Mollerstuen, GCI vice president and Workforce Development Program manager. “There just aren’t enough people graduating with degrees in engineering and IT. That’s not just a problem for Alaska—it’s a shortage nationwide. We created GCI’s Workforce Development Program in order to recruit and hire more Alaskans for these challenging, high-paying positions.”
The GCI Workforce Development Program starts in middle school by introducing students to technology careers and extends through graduate school, military and technical school recruitment programs. Conceived in 2014 to combine and enhance many outreach programs already in place around the company, the GCI Workforce Development Program focuses on technology jobs but also includes logistics, business management and finance tracks, among others. Since 2014, more than 40 individuals have participated in the program.
“The program gave me a well-rounded look at the various positions within telecommunications, an industry that I was very interested in,” said Daniel Ning, an electrical engineer who joined the program as an intern in 2016. “I really enjoyed learning about wireless technology during my internship—an opportunity that led me to my current position as a graduate intern at GCI.”
Mollerstuen continued, “It’s the right thing to do for our company, but it’s also the right thing to do for the economy. GCI’s Workforce Development Program provides a career pathway for Alaskans who might normally move outside of Alaska to find a job. It also encourages Alaska students to pursue a career they might not have previously considered.”
GCI’s Workforce Development Program includes the following key initiatives:
· Career Pathways – GCI is introducing middle school and high school students to jobs and careers in telecommunications, IT and business through curriculum assistance, guest speakers, on-site tours and teacher training opportunities.
· Externship – This hands-on learning opportunity, similar to an internship, gives educators focused on STEM from across the state a two-week immersion at GCI to learn the company culture and the services and products GCI provides. Teachers learn what skills are needed and the variety of STEM jobs available at GCI. When they return to the classroom, they can pass this knowledge on to their students and help students design a career pathway.
· Internship – GCI offers three terms for internships throughout the year – spring, summer and fall – each lasting up to four months. Interns are provided an ongoing work plan to keep them engaged and learning throughout the internship and are able to work in a variety of areas within the company, from consumer finance to wireless engineering.
· United Utilities Scholarship – For more than 20 years, United Utilities, Inc. (UUI), a GCI company, has awarded scholarships to graduating high school seniors who live in rural areas served by UUI, which includes Tanana, Whittier and Ruby. The scholarship is designed to help promising young Alaskans further their education and launch their careers to create a brighter future for Alaska. In 2015, UUI awarded 150 scholarships in the amount of $2,000 each. Over the past 20 years, $6 million worth of scholarship funds have been awarded through the program.
· Recent Graduate Program – GCI hires outstanding candidates for a one-year term with the expectation that each participant finds a regular, full-time position at GCI within a year. Graduates of a technical school, college or university as well as the military are eligible for this program, which allows them to try up to four positions to find a perfect fit for them at GCI.
· Career Development & Education – The GCI team works closely with its employees to continue their development once they are with the company. GCI is working closely with Alaska schools, colleges and universities to develop curriculums for training and technical certifications.
· Military Liaison – GCI is active in the Soldier for Life Transition Assistance Program as well as the Executive Transition Assistance Program, which help military members shift to civilian life, including résumé assistance and counsel for soldiers and airmen. In addition, GCI regularly participates in veterans’ job fairs to recruit talent across the state.
For more information about GCI and its workforce development initiatives across Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, visit http://gci.com/careers.
About GCI: GCI delivers communication and technology services in the consumer and business markets. Headquartered in Alaska with additional locations in the U.S., GCI has delivered services for more than 35 years to some of the most remote communities and in some of the most challenging conditions in North America. Learn more about GCI at www.gci.com.