July 14, 2013

Letters to the editor: Project > Login is key for state

I am writing in support of "Maine Voices: Article downplays impact of tech skills gap" (July 7), Michael Dubyak's and James Page's response to the article "High-tech hopes ... Low-skill reality" (June 23).

As a member of the Board of Directors of Educate Maine, I have been excited and energized by "the hope and promise" of Project>Login.

Based on data about job gaps in the Maine economy, this project to build the state's IT work force is gaining traction and champions.

Project>Login supports a major goal of the Maine Community Foundation's new Plan for the Future: achieving greater levels of post-secondary education and skills attainment.

All are important to our vision for a brighter future for Maine people in tying educational achievement to economic gains, namely, job creation.

Dubyak and Page note that the shortfall in the IT work force is a national issue. In this regard, we are joining forces with initiatives across the country to address this problem.

I point to what Jamie P. Merisotis, president and CEO of Lumina Foundation, wrote in his introduction to the report "A Stronger Nation through Higher Education": "We can't expect our citizens to meet the demands of the 21st century economy and society without a 21st century education. Americans need an education that imparts rigorous, relevant learning -- an education that provides the tools that are necessary to thrive in the face of rapid, inevitable change. In short, our citizens need high-quality, credentialed, college-level learning -- and they need it in greater numbers than ever before."

There is an urgency in Merisotis' statement that resonates with the educators and businesspeople who are supporting Project>Login.

We hope the Portland Press Herald will recognized our call to action and be able to cover the project's progress.

Meredith Jones

president and CEO, Maine Community Foundation

Portland

In response to "High-tech hopes ... Low-skill reality" (June 23), I'd offer a less bleak perspective.

Maine is home to great companies and great people who work every day to make a difference in the lives of others, usually the customers their employers serve, the families who rely on them, or the communities who benefit from thriving small and large businesses.

Idexx Laboratories, with our promise to keep animals healthy and milk and water safe, is proud of the impact that we have on Maine's economy, and we recognize the value of a diverse work force. Indeed, Idexx is reflective of Maine, offering career paths in dozens of areas, each of which is critical to the overall success of the company by supporting the achievements of one another.

We also support initiatives that recognize particular promise in improving the economy in key growth areas. Project>Login, which aims to expand Maine's science, technology, engineering and math educational opportunities, is one such program.

One need look no further than Idexx for proof that demand for people with the advanced skills that a STEM education develops is anything but anecdotal.

We want to hire people from Maine for the jobs that are available in Maine because we believe that these are the candidates who will be most fully invested in our community, future and growth. And, with more than 100 high-tech jobs currently unfilled at Idexx -- and more to come -- we represent the real and growing need to provide Maine students with greater access to a STEM education.

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