UA helps BP, Phillips build `people pipeline’

BP and the petroleum industry hope to gain a trained and reliable `pipeline of people' from University of Alaska students interested in jobs on the North Slope.

Ten scholarships and eight internships have been awarded for applicable students and will continue to be distributed each year. Beginning in 1999, BP promoted a program called Alaska Process Industry Careers Consortium (APICC) which established a partnership with the University of Alaska. APICC hopes to bring support to a process technology two-year associate degree program at all UA campuses that would provide students with experience for working on the North Slope.

 “To build a skilled Alaska workforce, we need to work together. With the help of our contractors, the state, educators and people from both rural and urban Alaska, we can grow the next generation of workers right here,” manager of learning and development, Kitty Farnham said in a press release.

Another program available to students is UAA's Itqanaiyagvik program, which means “a place to get ready.” Itqanaiyagvik provides job shadowing on the North Slope during the summertime months to those accepted. 18 Alaskan interns from instate universities, as well as from colleges outside Alaska, were given hands-on training, supplying them with oil field experience. Ninety percent of the total 38 attendants of the job shadowing program are currently working for BP. “Internships are often a first step to jobs at BP. The company selects many of its new hires for professional and technical positions from this pool,” manager of North Slope technical services, Ruth Germany-Bice said in a recent report.           

Alliances of Learning and Vision for underrepresented America (ALVA) is a part of UAA's Itqanaiyagvik program that gives Alaskan Native high school students scholarships for successfully completing the program. BP ALVA is a stepping stone into UAA's Alaska Native Student Engineering Program (ANSEP) that currently has a little over 20 enrolled students.

“Together, these two programs create a comprehensive bridging and retention program that gives students straight out of high school a clear vision of what an engineering career is like,” associate professor of the School of Engineering and director of ANSEP, Herbert Schroeder, said.

More opportunities for students are in the mix for the months and years to come, thanks to contributions from BP and Phillips Petroleum companies to the University of Alaska Foundation. The companies established a charter agreement, called the Economic Development Initiative, with the State of Alaska to annually fund the university. BP threw down $1.449 million and Phillips dropped $1.088 million, for a grand total of $2.537 million dollars.

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"As part of an agreement we reached with the State of Alaska, we made a voluntary commitment to tie our charitable giving in the State of Alaska to our North Slope oil production and the price of oil. Under that agreement, 30 percent of the total amount given will go to the University of Alaska," spokesperson for BP, Ronnie Chappell said in a telephone interview.

During the fall, the Department of Economics at UAA received $5 million from the Rasmuson's dedication. The Rasmuson money and the recent BP and Phillips donation provide Alaska with some major opportunities in the next couple of years. In a press release, UA President Mark Hamilton mentioned that a new center for research may be named in the near future to recognize BP and Phillips for their contribution. Although there are no definite plans of where the BP and Phillips money will go, the continuance of preparatory programs for North Slope employment and construction of a new research center are good possibilities. Dean of Business Administration and Public Policy Aden Green said, "The research going on now primarily focuses on public policy issues. I would hope to see this money used for research to expand the private sector of Alaska's economy."