Southern Maine Community College and Portland Adult Education are partnering on an initiative they say will enhance workforce training and educational opportunities for new Mainers.

Officials from both schools on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding for the new initiative, Building the Pipeline, which aims to improve screening, testing and prior learning assessments for immigrant students in southern Maine to align more closely with workforce training and credential-awarding programs at SMCC.

“Building the Pipeline will help new Mainers plan their pathways toward the training and education they need to secure bright futures,” SMCC President Joe Cassidy said in a statement. “This initiative will allow us to improve the quality of hands-on training for new Mainers, providing them with the skills that businesses are looking for to grow and prosper.”

Under the agreement, the community college will provide work and classroom space on its South Portland campus for Portland Adult Education to support Building the Pipeline. The adult-education program will promote SMCC training opportunities with its students and alumni and assess professional backgrounds, credential evaluation, English literacy, math levels and mechanical aptitude.

Adult-education staff also will provide ongoing career and education advising services, remedial support and workforce readiness and job hunting training to students in SMCC workforce training classes.

Portland Adult Education serves about 4,000 students each year. Last year, 2,240 of its students were new Mainers from 90 countries. One of its programs, the New Mainers Resource Center, helps foreign-born skilled professionals overcome barriers they face as they pursue their professions in Maine, Portland Adult Education said.

“This new relationship with SMCC will allow the New Mainers Resource Center at PAE to enhance opportunities for our students by strengthening the pipeline from PAE to high-demand jobs in the Portland area,” said Anita St. Onge, executive director of Portland Adult Education.

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