Alaska Maritime Education Consortium named a 2021 Center of Excellence for maritime workforce training

May 21, 2021

The Alaska Maritime Education Consortium on Wednesday was named one of 27 Centers of Excellence for Domestic Maritime Workforce Training and Education. The announcement was made by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration.

The Alaska Maritime Education Consortium (AMEC) represents a collaboration of five universities: University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Alaska Southeast, the Vocational Technical Center (AVTEC) located in Seward, University of Alaska Anchorage, and University of Alaska Southeast Ketchikan Campus.

Through the CoE designation, the Maritime Administration supports community or technical colleges and maritime training centers that prepare Americans for careers in the maritime industry. The CoE designation recognizes the tremendous value that the Alaska Maritime Education Consortium provides to our state and nation. 

Alaska’s maritime industry — referred to as “Alaska’s blue economy” — supports more than 70,000 jobs and, according to the Alaska Department of Labor, is the state’s largest private employer. It includes fishermen, seafood processors, ocean managers and researchers, vessel operators, deckhands, mechanics and many others who work in jobs connected to Alaska’s 44,000 miles of shoreline and multibillion-dollar annual seafood industry. Alaska waters produce more than 60 percent of the nation’s seafood harvest with a wholesale value of nearly $6 billion.

Alaska is highly dependent on maritime shipping for imports of food and other goods, and for exports of oil, seafood and minerals. Alaska's economy is boosted annually by millions of dollars generated from water transport including visitors arriving on cruise ships, halibut charters, travel on Alaska's Marine Highway vessels and subsistence hunting and fishing. These opportunities require a responsive workforce that enables the maritime sector to remain a substantial contributor to the state. 

Upgrades to the newly renovated Southeast Maritime Training Center coincided with efforts to seek CoE designation. The $5.8 million facility features state-of-the-art bridge and engine simulators, metal welding facilities, and diesel, hydraulics and refrigeration labs. 

As enacted in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, certain colleges are designated as maritime centers of excellence with the goal of creating a new talent pipeline for careers in the maritime trades. The program is designed to assist the maritime industry in gaining and sustaining a well-trained labor force while enhancing diversity and inclusion in the industry.

MARAD may now start working with the designated institutions to enter into cooperative agreements to help advance recruitment of students and faculty, enhance facilities, award student credit for military service, and potentially receive assistance in the form of surplus equipment or temporary use of MARAD vessels.

For additional information, please visit Centers of Excellence on the MARAD website.