A collage of four images. A plane on the runway, a construction site, a physician holding a chart next to patient, and a ship on water.

Earlier this month Kawerak and the Northwestern Alaskan Career and Technical Center, or NACTEC, co-received a five-year grant. This grant will allow them to develop careers for tribal members in the Bering Strait Region.

The NACTEP grant will give individuals the resources, training, education, and support they need to enter a particular career. It supports six educational pathways that correspond to six different trades. Individuals can commit to an educational pathway in Business and Tribal Governance, Construction, Health Careers, Early Childhood Development, Aviation, or Maritime.­ A former version of this grant only provided support for aviation training. Kawerak’s Employment and Training Director Kendra Nichols-Takak explained what commitment to one of these career pathways means.

 “When they apply, they’re not only applying for scholarships and to be able to register for certain classes and be eligible for them, they’re also making the commitment to work with a case manager or a career coach so that we have these conversations. That’s where the pathway comes in,” Nichols-Takak said.

NACTEP’s pathways starts with eighth graders, offering them activities that explore the six trades. Once an interested student reaches high school, they are able to concentrate on one particular career pathway. After taking two classes along one pathway, students are considered to be “concentrators” in that pathway. Then they can take advantage of the help and support that NACTEP offers. They can take classes focused on their career pathway and get dual credit throughout their time in high school.

Even though the NACTEP process focuses on students, these career pathways are open to individuals of all ages. From eighth grade to adulthood, this grant allows individuals to access resources at their level. Even if the individual already has worked in his or her career of choice, but would like the formal training NACTEP offers, the resources are available.

 “We have different entry points. So for the adults, we do have regional short-term training and once they’ve completed training in those particular focus areas they are working towards, or the career pathway, they can then go to statewide training centers,” Nichols-Takak said.

Kawerak focuses on the adults who commit to that focus training. NACTEC will support and teach students who commit to a career pathway from high school on up, Nichols-Takak said.

 “When it comes to the youth, it’s their (NACTEC’s) role, and so it’s important for people to also know that the (student’s) support is only available through NACTEC,” Nichols Takak said.

Interested adults must apply through Kawerak.

This support is available to tribal members throughout the Bering Strait Region and, unlike other educational initiatives, interested individuals can receive much of the support and training they seek in their home communities.

Image at top: Top left: Aviation Centennial. Photo by David Dodman. Top right: Construction in Shismaref (2020). Photo by Emily Hofstaedter. Bottom Left: “Ragin Contagion in Shaktoolik (2019). Photo by David Dodman. Bottom Right: NOAA ship “Fairweather”. Photo by NOAA.