JUNEAU, AK –The Central Council of the Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (Tlingit & Haida) announced it will be expanding the Generations Southeast Community Learning Center (Generations Southeast) to include an education campus in Klawock.
Through a long-term lease agreement with the City of Klawock, Tlingit & Haida will assume all operations of the Prince of Wales Vocational & Technical Education Center.
Operating as an educational 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the center was built in 2014 to support the workforce development needs of local industries and has served residents on Prince of Wales Island for nearly 10 years.
“The educational center has played an important role in helping residents on the island gain access to vocational and technical trainings,” said Tlingit & Haida President Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson. “This opportunity is really about lifting up our communities. Tlingit & Haida compacts with many of the village tribes on Prince of Wales Island, so this was really a natural fit.”
For the past year, Sealaska has supported the educational center and its effort to bring sustainable vocational and technical education programs to Prince of Wales Island. The center currently operates with two administrative staff, including Chas Edwardson, who has served as the Executive Director since 2022 and is a certified Alaska Vocational Technical Center (AVTEC) Instructor.
Edwardson has 30 years of business development experience, including 10 years in vocational training. He has been an integral part of the education center and will remain on staff as the local administrator.
“I am very excited about joining Generations Southeast. This is a great opportunity not only for our tribal citizens, but for the region as a whole. Workforce development is essential for sustainable economic development in virtually every sector, one cannot happen without the other. With Generations Southeast’s administrative capacity and years of experience in workforce development, we will continue to strengthen our region by meeting the workforce demands that are only increasing,” Edwardson shared.
Sealaska has committed to continue to support the center for the next two years while Tlingit & Haida increases staffing under its Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) compact funding to provide work-readiness training.
In addition to continuing to offer AVTEC courses, Tlingit & Haida plans to install virtual reality simulators to provide realistic road time Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) training and other vocational trainings like maritime, heavy equipment operators, administrative assistant, soft skills, and accounting.
Amelia Rivera is Tlingit & Haida’s Senior Director of the Cultural Heritage & Education Division which includes Generations Southeast, a fully accredited post-secondary training institution. She said courses offered through the educational campus on Prince of Wales Island will be open to the general public with financial assistance opportunities provided to tribal citizens through Tlingit & Haida’s Job Placement & Training and Higher Education programs.
“One of the most exciting things about this opportunity is the chance for us to help build a solid workforce on Prince of Wales Island and contribute to local economies while supporting self-sufficiency,” shared Rivera. “There’s a lot of potential to expand trainings and other educational opportunities.”
The center’s facilities include classrooms with full audio-visual capabilities and high-speed internet, well-equipped workspaces for woodworking and welding, and a construction bay.
As part of the operations, the education center will continue to offer rental space for community events and host the Island Market held every Saturday to support local artisans and entrepreneurs.