Copper River Seafoods is off and running with new four-year apprenticeship programs for construction equipment repair, mechanical repair industrial and quality control. Graduates of the program will earn a federal apprenticeship certificate from the U.S. Department of Labor, and earn from 16 to 30 college credits. The processing company’s goal is to create a culture of stability and opportunity within Copper River Seafoods that allows opportunity for growth for all employees, said Scott Blake, company president. CRS’s Ben Eveland, a veteran vocational education teacher, introduced the apprenticeship program at a train-the-trainers meeting Oct. 4 in Anchorage. Eveland said that program would later expand into other occupations needed in the fisheries industry, possibly accounting and marketing. He is working with state labor officials, who are involved in the program with federal officials, to explore what occupations are needed statewide. Fisheries veteran Dick Tremaine, asset manager for Norton Sound Economic Development Corp., applauded the effort, saying it would add value to the industry by filling the chronic shortage of skilled labor. John Hakala, who heads the U.S. Department of Labor’s apprenticeship program in Alaska, told the group the apprentices would be learning skills that are transferable across the company. The CRS apprenticeship programs will be designed for that company, but based on industry standards, he said. Participants in the event were given a 23-page document outlining apprenticeship policies and procedures that all participants must follow.