March 19, 2013

Letters to the editor: To draw students, raise pay for tech jobs

It is most encouraging to see the intensive attention that Maine work force challenges are receiving from the governor, the Legislature, education leaders and the private sector.

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A Raytheon software engineer stretches in a robotic suit made for the Army in Salt Lake City in 2008. A reader says median salaries for software engineering and information technology jobs in Maine “tend to fall significantly behind national median salaries” for the same type of work.

The Associated Press

Particularly noteworthy are efforts such as Educate Maine’s Project Login. This collaboration between Maine’s public higher education system and employers seeks to increase the number of graduates qualified to enter key information technology positions that are difficult to fill for Maine employers.

There is good reason to focus on information technology, as the job outlook remains strong but inadequate numbers of students are opting to enroll in programs of study to prepare for employment.

In addition, for the strategy to produce the intended results, Maine employers will also need to take a close look at the competitiveness of the salaries they are paying for these key information technology occupations.

Students possessing sought-after degrees and qualifications in these fields tend to function in a national labor market. Latest occupational wage and salary data for these occupations from the Maine Department of Labor and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that Maine median salaries tend to fall significantly below national median salaries for the same occupational category.

For example, the reported median salary in 2011 for computer systems analysts in Maine was $66,700 versus the U.S. median of $78,770.

For computer software engineers (applications), the median salary in Maine was $72,880 and $89,280 for the U.S.

If more students enter Maine information technology programs of study and gain valuable internship experience with Maine employers, let’s also make sure we offer them jobs with the competitive salaries set in the national labor market.

John Dorrer


‘Ma Hurley’ inspired other teachers as well as students

Thank you for glorifying the life of Maria Hurley in the March 6 obituary (“Feature obituary: Maria Hurley, 92, demanding English teacher at Deering”). She helped not only students but also other teachers. Younger educators eagerly took ideas from her, and they became better teachers.
“Ma Hurley” was revered by her colleagues and students.

It is a little-known secret that when the superintendent of schools in Falmouth accepted the similar position in Portland, he said, “I want Maria Hurley to leave Falmouth and work in the Portland public schools.” She did, and Falmouth was not pleased.

Obviously, Portland benefited. “Scientia est potestas.” (“Knowledge is power.”)

Morton G. Soule


U.S. Navy must join efforts to shield rare whale species

Considered the rarest large whale species on Earth and among the rarest of all marine mammal species, North Atlantic right whales have, for centuries, found themselves in the wrong place at so many times in our nation’s short history.

They’re slow, and contain a high percentage of blubber, both of which made them the “right” whale to hunt during the height of 18th-century whaling, because they’re easy prey and float even after being killed.

Now, as pointed out in Russell Wray’s recent op-ed (“Maine Voices: Navy’s training-testing plans pose unacceptable risk to delicate species,” March 7) with fewer than 400 remaining, right whales are again under assault, this time from the U.S. Navy’s underwater testing programs that are known to damage the whale’s most precious sense – its ability to hear.

The fact that right whales – and other species likely to be affected by the Navy’s planned use of explosives and mid-frequency sonar – have Endangered Species Act protections should be enough to encourage the Navy to take every step possible to relocate and limit their activities, which even the Navy acknowledges will result in countless instances of marine mammals experiencing temporary and permanent damage and even death.

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