By Stephanie Haydn, People AK Business Development Director

ecently our CEO Paula Bradison discussed the labor shortage in Alaska. Alongside other panelists, Paula described a variety of factors impacting Alaska’s workforce. She asked if there could be additional factors causing this shortage, “Do we have an engagement issue?” She validated her question with observations that stem from years of coaching and facilitation. The truth is that our younger generation engages differently. They are not necessarily “entitled” or “lazy,” rather they seek opportunities to contribute to meaningful work. Paula is not doubting the economic impact COVID-19 has had on the labor market, nor is she stating that the facts and figures are inaccurate. Honestly, none of us can deny the magnitude of pressure the state’s economic challenges have placed on the labor market.

According to Jon Bittner, State Director of the Alaska Small Business Development Center, “The difficulties in the labor market are a huge problem for the state’s economy. If businesses can’t remain open or operate normal hours, they won’t be able to take full advantage of the economic recovery and it will take us significantly longer to get back to normal. Businesses in the rest of the country have more resources and lower hurdles for their workforce such as cheaper housing and lower cost of living, and that could result in us losing more Alaskans to opportunities in the Lower 48.” Paula and the other speakers discussed several factors that are contributing to the lack of available talent. Many of these factors can be addressed immediately like engagement and uncertainty. People AK routinely works with our clients to improve engagement and develop clear expectations.

Factors that take a community effort were also discussed, “Where are young professionals suppose to live?” Paula asked. The cost of housing is so high, if even available, most recent graduates can’t afford to live. People AK has facilitated several compensation and benefit assessments for our clients in the hospitality and service industry and housing is always a top concern.

Observations were further solidified by David McCarthy, founder and CEO of Northern Hospitality Group. He stated that some of his restaurants and many others have yet to fully reopen to pre COVID hours. This is in part because of housing and even more the volatility his employees felt during the multiple shutdowns the industry faced. Many returned to school or found work in industries that they feel offer greater stability.

This is just one industry that was hit hard by the pandemic. Alaska Executive Search’s temporary staffing solutions witnessed a large diminish in available and qualified candidates to support our client’s needs. There is a misconception that temporary staffing is for entry level or unskilled workers. Therefore, many of the displaced workers hit by economic challenges would not think to connect with us. To the contrary, temporary employment is for all stages of the career lifecycle. It is most certainly an opportunity to learn a new industry or gain experience, but its also a great opportunity for more seasoned professionals. Leadership roles transition and often there is a gap that can be filled temporarily to maintain continuity. We have financial opportunities, service opportunities, leadership opportunities, technical specialties and more.

As Alaska Executive Search and Bradison Management Group move toward our shared vision of People AK, we are committed to supporting the full employment lifecycle for our business clients and the candidates we place. Leverage the consultants of both AES and BMG to address human capital needs, engagement, development, and retention. In conclusion I repeat that Alaska’s labor shortage is much more complex and we must address a number of issues to resolve it.

Stephanie Haydn,
Business Development Director

For more information about People AK, please visit For AES please visit, for BMG please visit, or call 907-276-5707.

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