Supervisor training for seafood processors

Alaska Sea Grant and the Applied Business program at the UAF Community and Technical College are collaborating to offer leadership and supervisory skills training for workers in the seafood processing industry. The first workshops were hosted at the Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center in April.

Processing salmon at Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center. Alaska Sea Grant. UAF photo by JR Ancheta.

Nineteen participants attended the initial trainings, which covered the following topics: 

  • the role of a supervisor
  • supervisory leadership and ethics
  • effective communications
  • conflict management
  • decision making and team building
  • supervising a diverse workforce

The practical and interactive workshops included Spanish and Tagalog translation. One of the participants commented, “I particularly enjoyed these activities as they brought us together, not only with our fellow co-workers, but gave us an opportunity to work with others in the processing industry that we otherwise would not be able to.”

More than a year in development, the training is in response to a survey conducted by the Alaska Research Consortium to determine seafood processing workforce needs. Responses from seafood plants and catcher/processor companies identified training in core skills such as supervision, leadership, conflict management, and diversity and inclusion as a high-priority.

Paula Cullenberg, Alaska Research Consortium executive director, and Quentin Fong, seafood marketing specialist with Alaska Sea Grant, reached out to the UAF Community and Technical College to design and deliver the 8-hour training to meet this industry need.

Mark Young, UAF associate professor and program chair of Applied Business, was eager to take part in this effort. “The chance to support an industry that is vital to the state of Alaska through my work in professional development seemed like a perfect fit.” He added, “I have long admired the work that Alaska Sea Grant does through the Marine Advisory Program and am excited to be working with them.”

Alaska’s seafood processing industry is the state’s largest manufacturer with more than 26,000 annual workers based at more than 165 seafood facilities. This workforce is composed of people with diverse cultures, genders, languages and educational backgrounds. This training program complements and provides a pathway to Alaska Sea Grant’s established Alaska Seafood Processing Leadership Institute for experienced, rising leaders and managers in the industry.

Future plans for the training program include workshops in Dillingham and Petersburg this summer, and offerings in additional coastal communities in 2023. Plans also include making the training available online to reach additional remote communities and enable students to work at their own pace.

“Our intent is to provide practical training that results in greater success in employment and operations for the seafood industry,” said Fong. “By working closely with companies to identify members of their workforce who are ready to advance, we expect to see greater retention of seafood workers. With the professional growth these workers achieve, it’s a win-win for everyone.”

The training was supported by a grant from the University of Alaska Technical Vocational Education Program (TVEP), which provides grants to high-demand career and technical education entities for industry-specific, on-the-job and classroom training. TVEP funding was established in 2000 by the Alaska Legislature using Unemployment Insurance receipts. The University of Alaska system is a comprehensive and productive provider of workforce training in Alaska.

For more information, contact Quentin Fong.