The Alaska labor force may be headed for a historic test: building a North Slope gas pipeline.
But it remains an open question how many of those thousands of high-paying jobs could be filled by state residents versus nonresidents.
Even if the long-sought gas line linking the Slope's vast gas deposits to Lower 48 markets is delayed for years, Alaska faces a labor crunch. Many workers in the state's major industries are nearing retirement age.
"We do know there's a gap," said Gerry Andrews, who runs the Alaska Department of Labor's gas-line job education and training initiative.
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Under the proposed timeline for gas line construction, many of the skilled workers needed for such a project — welders, truck drivers and engineers, to name a few — will retire before it begins, economists say.
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