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Alaska Native Women Led Business Offers Job Training For Rural Residents

Yvonne Jackson founded and owns Alaska Rural Professional Development.
Courtesy of Yvonne Jackson

A business owned and led by Alaska Native women is working to bring job skill training to rural Alaska, and it's succeeding.

Yvonne Jackson of Bethel owns Alaska Rural Professional Development. She employs two women who are also Alaska Native and from the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. One is from St. Mary’s and the other is from Kasigluk. Together the three women are working to fill a workforce training gap.

“We provide professional development training and soft skills that are needed for almost all the jobs in Alaska,” Jackson said.

Her company provides training in over 100 workforce skills.

“Servant leadership, team building, communication, public speaking, and many other soft skills courses that we have to offer,” Jackson said. It also offers training in the Microsoft Office suite: Word, Excel, and Outlook.

Jackson started her company in 2018. At the time, she was working in Bethel as a dorm parent for the Kuskokwim Learning Academy. There, she saw graduates leaving school without pursuing vocational training or college. She wanted them to be able to gain the workplace skills needed to succeed in the workforce, but Jackson didn’t see that training being offered.

She had a good idea what skills were needed, because she was also working as the Tribal Workforce Development Director for the Association of Village Council Presidents. And in that role, she couldn’t find a vendor to fill that training gap.

“For the individuals who are not choosing higher education with vocational education or college, really don't have any other options besides gaining their experience over the years to strengthen their employment portfolio,” Jackson said.

Jackson decided to start her company to open more avenues toward being a qualified professional. Three years later, she deems it a success.

“Yes, it's working. It's so good,” Jackson said. “I have students that I've trained that continue to call me to this day and ask if they could participate in additional training. I have students who call me that participated in my training that still ask for copies of this certificate, because it's helped them get jobs.

It also builds the students' confidence.

“These students in rural Alaska really begin to feel like they have a chance at working. They have a chance at helping with their family and providing income,” Jackson said.

Jackson ultimately wants to expand her workforce training business to hub cities across Alaska. She’s already offering trainings in Anchorage and to lower 48 tribes.

Anna Rose MacArthur is the KYUK News Director. She has worked at KYUK since 2015 and previously worked at KNOM in Nome, Alaska.
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