New Partnership Aims to Increase STEM Job Opportunities for Alaska Native Students

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The U.S. Department of the Interior and the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP) recently announced a new partnership to increase STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) employment opportunities for Alaska Native students.

The agreement, part of an effort by the Biden administration to diversify the federal workforce, grants the Interior Department direct hire authority for ANSEP students and recent graduates, making it easier and faster for them to secure work or internship positions across different bureaus and offices.

“This new partnership exemplifies the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to removing barriers and advancing equity across the federal government,” said Secretary Deb Haaland in a statement. “We must continue to mobilize an all-of-government approach to ensure that historically underrepresented communities are brought into federal service.”

Established in 1995, ANSEP is a pathway program that supports Alaska Native students and students from rural Alaskan communities in pursuing STEM careers. ANSEP has previously partnered with the federal government on placement programs with the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service.

“[The new agreement] is going to be not only good for the community, but good for the resources, good for Alaska,” Beth Spangler, a senior director with ANSEP, told the Alaska Beacon. “Our students have the academics, like a master’s or bachelor’s degree in natural resources or whatever their position is, but then they also have the local knowledge. They have an understanding that’s so much deeper.”