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Partnership brings roustabout to North Slope

March 7th, 2014 | Sarah Martinsen Print this article   Email this article  

Thanks to a partnership between Iḷisaġvik College, Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC), Ukpeaġvik Iñupiat Corporation (UIC), and Northern Industrial Training (NIT) of Palmer, Alaska, twelve students spent the last three weeks gaining the skills and credentials that may lead to job opportunities in the oil and gas industry. Roustabout is an entry-level position for subsidiaries of both ASRC and UIC. The three-week Roustabout training covers rigging/load securement, welding safety, forklift, CPR/First Aid, Thinking Driver, Shop Safety, 40 Hour HAZWOPER, Fall Protection, North Slope Training Cooperative (including the Energy Isolation and Confined Space modules), and PEC Core Compliance.

One student reported on their evaluation, "It was awesome learning so many skills." The goal is for every graduate of the class to become directly employed. Between ASRC, UIC, and their subsidiaries, there will be at least 25 Roustabouts hired this spring.

Chris Dunbar of the North Slope Borough played a significant role in moving this training forward. He worked with Patrick Rose of NIT to develop a plan for the class. Chris thought that bringing important training like this to the North Slope would be "a real gift to the community." He was right. Not only would one normally have to travel all the way to Anchorage or Palmer for training like this, but it would cost in excess of $5,000 per student.

Thanks to grants provided through NIT and ASRC, the class was offered at no cost to the students. Student travel and room and board expenses were paid for by Iḷisaġvik College through their State of Alaska Workforce Development grant and with other funds. Additionally, ConocoPhillips scholarships assisted some participants with tuition.

Finding students who qualified for the class presented an interesting challenge. To meet the criteria, students had to complete a DOT physical, pass a drug test, produce their high school diploma or GED, obtain a letter of recommendation, write a short essay on why they wanted to participate in the training, and commit to attend Iḷisaġvik for the full three weeks. Staff from Iḷisaġvik College, ASRC, UIC, the NSB, and NIT worked for weeks to help students meet the requirements and then pick the 12 students who both qualified and would benefit the most from the class. Over 20 students applied, but in the end one Doyon, one Bering Strait, and 10 ASRC shareholders, from places as far away as Kivalina and Anchorage as well as students from Barrow were able to participate in the class. Many of the students showed genuine appreciation in being able to earn their Roustabout credentials in Barrow rather than having to travel far from their families and communities. Former Barrow resident, Elmer Thompson Sr., who now lives in Fairbanks stated, "It's been great to see so many familiar faces while I'm here."

The students provided a variety of positive feedback in response to the three-week course. Kathleen Rock, a resident of Point Hope who was in Barrow attending Cold Water Safety and PSO classes previous to the Roustabout, told the WFD Training Manager, "I'm so glad I decided to stay on for this class." Another student wrote "This class will help me get a job (in Prudhoe) right away."

Iḷisaġvik College is thankful to all of those involved in the coordination of this event. Ben Glover, Dean of Community and Workforce Development, stated "the students would have never received this important training had it not been for Robert Kaleak and Ray Esparza of ASRC, Jason Christensen and Monica Edwardsen of UIC, Patrick Rose and the instructors of NIT, and Kathy Leary, Mike Mason and all the other support staff here at Iḷisaġvik College. I want to say thank you to all involved in making this a success and creating opportunities for our residents!" For more information on Iḷisaġvik College's Community and Workforce Development Programs, please call 1-800-478-7337 ext. 1868 or email


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