PORTLAND — Tackling the skills gap in Maine and filling jobs will require help from private-sector employers and the education system, said WEX Inc. Chairman, President and Chief Executive Michael Dubyak.
Employers need to help train future workers by offering paid internships, while educators need to reach out to students at an early age to spark and keep their interest in high-technology jobs, said Dubyak, who is also chairman of Educate Maine, a business-led nonprofit organization that promotes increased educational attainment in the state.
“I’d love to see our best and brightest to stay in Maine,” Dubyak said Wednesday at the Portland Community Chamber’s monthly “Eggs & Issues” event. “This has to be private sector-led. Making sure we’re creating jobs in the state. If we do it well, it will get noticed by others in the country and attract people and businesses here.”
Dubyak promoted Project Login, a project spearheaded by Educate Maine and the University of Maine System. The project aims to double the number of computer science and information technology graduates from the University of Maine System to 160 in 2016, up from 80 in 2011.
Dubyak said WEX, for example, hires contractors because it can’t find enough IT people to fill full-time jobs. He’s hoping that Educate Maine and Project Login change that trend over time.
“It’s a big problem. There’s a big problem with IT (information technology) talent around the country,” Dubyak said. “Demand is growing faster than supply.”
Dubyak said the project has raised almost $670,000 to help promote technology jobs, spur paid internships and create a website for students and job seekers who are seeking education options in the technology field.
Project Login is funded by Bangor Savings Bank, Eastern Maine Medical Center, Idexx Laboratories, MaineHealth, Maine Medical Center, Pierce Atwood, TD Bank, Unum and WEX.
While the initiative is focused on information technolog and computer science, for now, Dubyak said it may be broadened to look at other industries and specialties in the future.