It’s no secret that we need to jump-start our economy. Maine families are working harder, but it is more difficult to get ahead or even keep up.

Students and young Mainers are leaving the state in search of better opportunities, and too many Mainers are struggling to find good-paying jobs in their communities.

We’ve got to do better as a state. That’s why I’m working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to pass a job training initiative called “Put ME to Work.” It brings employers, workers and the public sector together to grow good jobs and strong wages in our state.

While Democrats and Republicans don’t always agree on the ways we can improve our economy, job training is an area where we can find common ground.

Put ME to Work aims to invest $5 million over five years for job training in growing job sectors like health care, manufacturing and agriculture.

The bill would also fund scholarships for workers and students to gain the skills they need to fill jobs in these growing sectors, giving young Mainers the shot they need to get ahead.


By investing in new skills for workers and students in every region of the state, we are putting a down payment on growing the middle class.

Maine’s comeback story depends on growing good jobs and strong wages in our state.

For months, I have been traveling across the state on a jobs tour meeting with Maine workers, business owners and community leaders to learn more about how to grow good jobs and strong wages in our state.

From North Berwick to Frenchville, the message has been the same: a skilled and well-trained workforce is the key to success for both workers and businesses in our state.

We’ve met with students in Presque Isle at Northern Maine Community College, who are graduating from the precision machining program next year and already have good-paying jobs lined up. NMCC has partnered on a small scale with local manufacturers, including First Wind, Vestas, Louisiana Pacific, Irving, GE and Haas to provide the worker training.

We’ve met with logging students and loggers in Rumford and Mexico, who urged us to invest in job training. Jim Nicols, who owns the Nicols Brothers’ logging company in Rumford said it best: “Logging is no longer walking into the woods with a lunch pail. The workers need to have extensive training on complex machines.”


In central Maine, we stopped at Johnny’s Selected Seeds, a Maine company competing in international markets and providing good jobs in a growing sector. We saw how technology is changing and innovating agriculture.

No matter where we went, the message has been clear: Maine needs a highly trained workforce.

In my backyard, the collaboration between York County Community College, Pratt & Whitney and dozens of area employers is a successful model for the Put ME to Work program.

A few years ago when Pratt & Whitney’s manufacturing facility in North Berwick landed the contract to build more fighter jet engines for the U.S. military, the company executives found themselves with a good problem to have: a growing business and a need to hire more skilled workers.

Pratt & Whitney needed workers with the right skills. So it and a group of nearly three dozen employers turned to YCCC and state leaders to help create a public-private partnership that would train workers to meet the new demand.

In just the last few months, two of York County’s largest employers, Pratt & Whitney and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, announced plans to hire 1,200 people. Both are turning to YCCC’s new machinist technology program to hire the skilled workers they need. The state invested $330,000 toward the public-private partnership and it is already paying off with new jobs for Maine workers and students.


Now, young students or workers who lost their jobs through no fault of their own have a chance to get the skills they need to get the high-skill jobs of the future.

The public-private partnership between the industries and the college is exactly the kind of model we should be using across Maine to grow jobs, help workers and help employers.

Maine’s economy has lagged for too long. It’s time to “Put Maine to Work.”


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