PORTLAND – Tackling Maine’s “skills gap” and filling jobs will require help from private-sector employers and the education system, said Michael Dubyak, chairman, president and CEO of South Portland-based WEX Inc.
Employers must help train future workers by offering paid internships, while educators must 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.
“I’d love to see our best and brightest 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, led 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, from 80 in 2011 to 160 in 2016.
Dubyak said WEX, for example, hires contractors because it can’t find enough IT people to fill full-time jobs. He hopes Educate Maine and Project Login will change that trend over time.
“It’s a big problem. There’s a big problem with IT talent around the country,” Dubyak said. “Demand is growing faster than supply.”
Dubyak said Project Login has raised almost $670,000 to help promote technology jobs, spur paid internships and create a website for students and job seekers looking for education options in the technology field.
Project Login is funded by Bangor Savings Bank, Eastern Maine Medical Center, Idexx Laboratories, Maine Medical Center, MaineHealth, Pierce Atwood, TD Bank, Unum and WEX.
While the initiative is now focused on information technology and computer science, Dubyak said it may be broadened to look at other industries and specialties.
Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at [email protected]