Ilisagvik News & Events
For the 2018 Spring semester at Iḷisaġvik College, the college saw its highest student enrollment to date — 781 students.
According to school officials, the new mayor’s tuition waiver for all North Slope Borough residents that went into effect during the spring semester was a big factor in the increased enrollment. Of those enrolled, 64.5 percent were of Alaska Native/American Indian heritage. With almost 800 students being served by the college, 454 registered as credit students. Of these, 52 were registered as full-time students taking a course load of at least 12 credits. 327 students received continuing education workforce development training credits.
The most popular academic programs offered at Iḷisaġvik remain business management/accounting (25 students), allied health (19 students) and dental health therapy (23 students).
The most popular vocational education and workforce development credit programs offered this spring are industrial safety (59 students); heavy equipment/heavy truck endorsements (commercial driver’s license — 46 students); and driver’s education (39 students). This spring, 32 students received their Class B commercial drivers license in Utqiaġvik. Of those students, 13 were from North Slope villages.
This semester saw 57 flights into Utqiaġvik from villages outside of Utqiaġvik where students flew in to take courses offered on campus. More than 30 village students opted to take courses via distance delivery. Industrial safety held in-village credit courses in every village between January and June and workforce development business continuing education courses in Wainwright, Atqasuk, and Kaktovik.
For more information about classes, contact registration at 907-852-1757.
After renewed focus and expansion by the college and its cooperators, the Iḷisaġvik College heavy equipment operations and commercial driver’s license (HEO/CDL) program has become the fastest growing program within the vocational education and workforce development area of study.
The college has seen a 300 percent increase in enrollment and licenses with the addition of new course offering after working with an advisory board of community and industry cooperators to improve the course offerings. Many students enrolled in the vocational driving programs have reported a significant rise in income level as a result of the new credentials, the college reports.
Organizers say part of the success of the HEO/CDL program is tied to the roundtable industry advisory board hosted by the college on a regular basis and includes members from the North Slope Borough mayor’s office, Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, SKW Eskimos, and the Ukpeaġvik Iñupiat Corporation.
During these meetings, the advisory group recommended that the college revamp and emphasize its existing CDL training as there are many jobs available across the slope that require these licenses for both employment and promotions. Additionally, because the region has both restricted (off-system village licenses) and unrestricted (road system) licenses, a major emphasis was also placed on removing restrictions and opening the door to employment anywhere.
As a result, the college now offers multiple courses to get students from entry level and no experience, to the top CDL Class A unrestricted license. Classes range from the previously existing five-week complete package course with two weeks in Barrow and three weeks in Fairbanks to the new, individualized one- to three-week courses matching each step of the license process.
“The course separation in our new class allows students to get their permits and then come back for additional training at a time that better fits their schedules,” said Arth Brown III, dean of Vocational Education and Workforce Development.
It takes one week to obtain the permit and two weeks for the road exam class for the Class B license, with all classes held in Barrow.
Participants must be Alaska residents, at least 19 years old, have held a valid driver’s license for at least a year, have a current valid Alaska driver’s license, be able to pass a urine drug test and have an original U.S. birth certificate.
“For HEO/CDL short-term classes, Iḷisaġvik will cover the travel of students from the villages to Barrow,” said Sandra Plessinger, administrative services manager for the workforce development program. “They can stay at the dorms and meals will be provided on our campus. Our classes include the DOT physical exam so we can ensure students are successful with a CDL license in hand.?We also work very closely with the DMV and the City of Utqiaġvik. Their support to keep the CDL Class B local has been great.”
Plessinger noted that the workforce development program staff will work with students who do not have their birth certificates to help them obtain the necessary document. Village liaisons are also available to help.
“The birth certificate is a DMV requirement and we believe helping the students obtain it, is part of our commitment to student success,” she said.
At Iḷisaġvik, most of the students who study for their CDL do it to get a job, keep a job or advance in a job. Often, getting a CDL can mean a significant pay raise or more opportunities in finding a job. In the 2017-18 academic year, 86 percent of students who studied for their CDL obtained their license. Of those students, 80 percent were Inupiaq, and 12 percent were female. In the 2015/16 academic year, there were only a total 22 students enrolled and five with their unrestricted license. In the 2016/2017 academic year, there were 16 students with 15 unrestricted licenses. This academic year, enrollment jumped to 49 students with 42 license recipients.
“I think this just shows that Iḷisaġvik remains firmly committed to meeting as many of the post-secondary education needs on the North Slope as we can, whether those needs are academic or vocational,” said Pearl Brower, Iḷisaġvik College president. “One of our most important goals is to provide residents with the training they need to qualify for the jobs that are available. Our CDL program’s success is a shining example of how well we are meeting that goal.”
For more information on this program, contact Sandra Plessinger at 907-852-6307.