Seafood industry professionals gathered in Kodiak for the Alaska Seafood Processing Leadership Institute. They came to learn valuable skills and information that may help some move up the ladder and be more successful in their careers.
When he first started working in the seafood industry over two decades ago, Frank Richards never would’ve guessed he’d end up as a manager of a fish processing plant in Valdez. But there was just something about the work he liked.
“It’s not your typical nine to five job and you know to me every day is something different. You just don’t go into the plant and everything is going to be the same. You never know what you’re going to walk into. Just I mean it’s interesting. It’s a great industry.”
Richards, along with about twenty other people who work in the seafood industry are attending this year’s Alaska Seafood Processing Leadership Institute in Kodiak. It’s put on by University of Alaska Fairbank’s Sea Grant. The annual program has been going on for over a decade. People from across Alaska traveled from places like Petersburg and Nome for the class.
Students attend lectures and have hands-on training throughout the week. Kim Nasados(Nah-saw-dos) is a quality assurance manager from Cordova. She says the class is covering a lot of information.
“We’re learning everything from fish quality when it comes in, to how to improve our processes, and value-added products. All sorts of things.”
The purpose of the institute is to help middle managers from the seafood industry acquire the skills and perspectives that will help them have a successful career. Quentin Fong is one of the instructors for the institute. He says after students finish the class they’ll have a better understanding of the industry.
Fong says the class should prepare younger employees to take on upper-level management positions, which the industry will need them to do.
“There is a graying of seafood processors. The average age is close to retirement age. You know, in the fifties.”
To be a part of the class, participants have to submit an application and they need to be sponsored by their employer. Fong says the program is a good preview of what it’s like to be a supervisor.
“It gives the younger folks, that are coming up a taste of the management responsibilities that they are going to have in the near future with their career.”
Even though the Kodiak segment of the Alaska Seafood Processing Leadership Institute will conclude later this week, students will have more to do. The program is spaced over a three-month period and class will reconvene in Anchorage during the spring.