A recently published report by the Alaska Region of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) determined that the agency could improve the representativeness of Alaskans in the agency workforce, particularly rural Alaskans and Alaska Natives. Alaska’s coastal communities are primarily rural areas, and Alaska Natives comprise half of the coastal community population. The agency will begin to work to address the need for a diverse workforce.
The report recognizes that a broader range of local perspectives and skills will be valuable as the agency faces unique challenges, particularly ecosystem changes associated with melting sea ice, warmer weather and related changes to the marine environment. Also, most of the agency’s work occurs in Alaska’s coastal communities, heightening the need for local engagement. Additional benefits that may accrue from a more local workforce include reduced staff turnover and an improved policy decisionmaking process.