As a restaurant owner who regularly struggles to find employees, I know firsthand that one of Maine’s biggest economic challenges is the size and skill level of our workforce. Finding solutions to grow and strengthen Maine’s workforce is critical for Maine people and our state’s economic success. Thankfully, Maine’s career and technical education schools are developing promising solutions.

As a recent article (“Summer camps build on effort to extend vocational programs to middle schoolers,” July 26) highlighted, many Maine CTE schools are currently offering summer camps for middle school students – previously offered only to high school juniors and seniors – to help engage their interest in careers such as culinary arts, emergency medicine, carpentry and other trades. These pilot programs are part of a broader approach Maine CTE schools are taking to expand their reach to students in earlier grades. This is the kind of forward-looking solution that will help resolve Maine’s workforce challenges and put even more students on paths to successful futures.

At Bridge Academy Maine, we help schools connect students to CTE, college, jobs and more. We understand that engaging students in learning, early on and in ways that work for them, will secure a stronger future for many Maine youth. CTE also is critical to achieving an important goal the MaineSpark coalition identified – that 60 percent of Mainers have a post-secondary degree or credential by 2025, so Maine’s people, employers and economy are positioned for success.

Best of all, CTE and these pilot programs are helping a lot of young Mainers get excited about learning and the career possibilities that lie ahead.

Brian Langley
executive director, Bridge Academy Maine; member, ReadyNation; owner, Union River Lobster Pot Restaurant
Ellsworth

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