AVTEC Closes Anchorage Campus Due to State Budget Cuts
By Casey Marsh, KBBI - Homer
Alaska’s Institute of Technology, also known as AVTEC- the Alaska Vocational Technical Center- had to close the doors to their Anchorage satellite campus on Aug. 15, due to budget cuts.
Heather Beaty is the Executive Director of the Alaska Workforce Investment Board. As a spokesperson for the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Beaty said the closure was due in part to the 33 percent budget cut to the State General Funds.
Budget cuts are not a new thing for AVTEC, though. Beaty said that the agency has already made many money-saving cuts in the past.
“With those cuts have come many efficiencies. We’ve combined two of our divisions, we’ve eliminated vacant positions, we’ve had to do some layoffs, we’ve consolidated our lease spaces, [and] we’ve cut back on travel. We’ve looked for saving everywhere, but unfortunately these cuts are so deep that we are at a point where we’re having to close some of our offices and we’re having to eliminate some of the programs we have to offer,” Beaty said.
The State of Alaska opened AVTEC in 1969 in response to the coming pipeline. The State knew they would need to increase the number of highly trained workers in certain skillsets to accommodate for the pipeline’s construction.
AVTEC programs include maritime, culinary, welding and many other training programs. Last year, nearly 1,400 students completed long-term training at AVTEC.
The Allied Health Program has been offered through AVTEC’s Anchorage Campus. But now that the campus has closed, AVTEC can no longer offer their main nursing programs.
Beaty said that the Allied Health Program typically served about 100 certified nursing assistant candidates each year, and about 20 people each year enrolled in the registered nursing and the LPN programs.
The last group of licensed practical nurses graduated in November of 2015, before the LPN program was shut down due to previous cuts. However, the Medical Office Assistant program is one of the few medical programs that are offered at AVTEC’s main campus in Seward.
As for the future of AVTEC, Beaty said they hope for a fiscal program to be passed so that there can be more certainty for the programs that they offer.
“It’s so important to be able to offer good quality job training in our state so that people have the skills they need to go to work in careers that are going to help them earn a good wage and provide what they need for their families,” Beaty said.
AVTEC’s main campus in Seward will remain open.