$ 60 million workforce training center, run by Maine community colleges, aims to help thousands

The Maine Community College System announced Tuesday the creation of the Harold Alfond Center for the Advancement of Maine’s Workforce, a virtual center that will spend a total of $ 60 million to train 24,000 workers over four years.

The center will focus on providing free or low-cost training to address Maine’s workforce issues, such as the mismatch between worker skills and employer needs, low enrollment rate , the shrinking workforce and the need to make training and education more accessible in the workplace. .

“Maine has struggled with a severe labor shortage for decades – a shortage that has for too long stifled our ability to grow our economy, create and maintain small businesses, and provide well-paying jobs. statewide, ”Gov. Janet Mills said in a press release.

The funding includes a four-year $ 15.5 million grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation, $ 35 million in workforce training funds from the state’s employment and stimulus plan, and an additional $ 10 million in matching funds provided by the private sector, other grants and established workforce funding.

The $ 35 million in Jobs and Stimulus Plan funding was approved by the Maine legislature and signed by Mills in July.

“The Harold Alfond Foundation is very pleased to support this initiative which dramatically expands the scope and reach of workforce training in Maine,” said Greg Powell, Chairman of the Foundation’s Board of Directors. Harold Alfond.

“Maine Community Colleges have demonstrated over the years that they can quickly provide workforce training that fully meets the needs of employers and gives Maine workers the skills they need to enter and advance. in today’s workforce. This is a life changing opportunity for workers in Maine at a time of transformation for our state. “

The initiative aims to cut red tape, save time and money, and improve the speed of workforce training delivery by pooling resources and coordinating all training initiatives. short term through the center.

The center will target unemployed and underemployed Maine who lack the skills to compete, as well as workers who need additional training to stay relevant and progress, and Maine’s more than 150,000 adults. who have post-secondary credits but no diploma or diploma. .

The aim is to bring together the various current workforce training efforts into a single system that combines short-term training opportunities and longer-term graduation or certification. The center is also designed to serve as a training division for small and medium-sized employers in Maine who lack the resources to support in-house training departments.

The new Harold Alfond Foundation grant of $ 15.5 million follows a smaller grant made to the Maine Community College System in 2018. This grant was used by the Workforce Training arm of MCCS , Maine Quality Centers, to provide free, short-term training in four industries: healthcare, information technology, construction and manufacturing, and trades.

The new funding will provide free or discounted training to more than 13,000 people, mostly tenured workers looking for advanced skills or a degree.

The $ 35 million stimulus fund injection will enable MCCS to expand free, short-term workforce training to around 8,500 people in healthcare, green economy , trades, manufacturing, hospitality, education and computer technology.

In recent months, Maine Quality Centers have signed an agreement with more than 80 companies and associations in the state. Under the agreement, the business partners commit to working with the community college network to support workforce training. Training and education must be done in partnership with hiring companies so that skilled Mainers can take up high-demand, high-paying jobs.

The companies include large employers such as MaineHealth, LLBean Inc. and General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, as well as smaller employers including UnionRiver Lobster Pot, Mariner Beverages, and Allenfarm Fence Co.

“It’s not enough to provide training for their first job, or even mid-career training,” said David Daigler, President of MCCS. “With these funds and the new contract with Maine Businesses, Maine community colleges can provide a streamlined and affordable path for workers to receive personalized training and support from their first job and continue through to graduation.” ” a university degree or other valuable qualification. “

A new $ 1.2 million Remote Work For Me project will provide rural Maine residents with free training so they can continue working remotely.


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Milton S. Rodgers

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