Maine has a real problem with workforce development, and the reason why will surprise you.

Over the past few decades, Maine’s workforce has struggled to adapt to the shift in workforce demands. Jobs lost through layoffs and closures have been all too common over the past few decades. Every time a layoff happens, Mainers are left looking for work in a new workforce climate. This has driven more individuals to look for highly skilled positions, or enter into one of Maine’s college systems.

The issue of developing a strong, highly skilled workforce in Maine has been slowly improving in recent years, given the support from legislators to fund programs that focus on supporting a sustainable, highly skilled workforce. These efforts have been seen through measures enacted by the 127th Legislature, such as L.D. 1373, which established the Put ME to Work program in the Maine Quality Centers, and L.D. 215, which expanded the JMG (formerly Jobs for Maine’s Graduates) programs across Maine to focus on student retention in college. Pushed by Mainers and supported by legislators in order to provide supports for lower-socioeconomic individuals, these policies have not gone unnoticed.

In the current political climate, where funding for additional programs are being cut from the state’s budget, legislators need to remember the positive outcomes generated from programs established from policies in the recent years. Eliminating funding for any program that supports job training services for low-income adults, laid-off workers or struggling youth would be a step in the wrong direction for Maine’s workforce.

The problem with workforce development is not a lack of Mainers needing stable employment – it’s that there is no consistent, state-funded support for programs that are working to solve this problem. If Maine continues to support programs, and fund organizations and colleges that focus on supporting, educating and training Maine’s future workforce, the state will see the economic benefits.

Tobby Bragdon


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