Workforce Shortages & Gaps

Stakeholders identified gaps in Kodiak’s workforce as a significant challenge to fill current open positions and accommodate for potential growth of businesses in the Kodiak region. Skilled trades are of particular concern, including HVAC, mechanical, electrical, and construction; many projects in Kodiak require hiring workforce from off-island with added travel and accommodation costs. Automotive maintenance, equipment operators, and medical providers are also short in supply.

In September 2022, the Kodiak Economic Development Corporation hosted a Workforce Development luncheon with approximately 30 people representing 13 different sectors. Common themes from attendees included: difficulty of employers in filling open positions, attracting talented individuals, and a desire to have young people remain in Kodiak and thus grow the local workforce. An overwhelming number of attendees expressed the need to first understand how to start, and then support local resources to grow and develop the local talent. Developing local capacity is a preferred long-term workforce development solution as it can strengthen the economy in coming years.

A more immediate need is to address the contemporary gap in the workforce. This is not just a Kodiak issue, but a state-wide challenge. According to the March 2023 Alaska Economic Trends “The size of Alaska’s working-age population has been declining for nine years in a row.” Two reasons cited include net migration losses and an aging population. Kodiak, in particular, has experienced an aging workforce in the fisheries sector, both in the fishing and processing components.

Additional factors also play a role in the availability of our local workforce, including significant housing shortages and the lack of affordable, quality childcare. The transient workforce from the military transfers and the fishing industry places pressure on housing availability, often filling short-term residential rentals.