As recent news reports and an editorial in this paper (Our View, Nov. 9) pointed out, declining college enrollment is one COVID disruption that has the potential to create long-term economic problems. On one hand, in today’s labor shortage, Maine employers need workers now. On the other hand, declining enrollment today poses workforce shortages tomorrow. We need to address each of these challenges with the other in mind.

In terms of the future, looking at high-demand employment fields, particularly requiring education related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), our state is well positioned. Maine’s community colleges, state university system and private colleges provide excellent pathways to careers in well-paying fields. Quicker paths to employment; programs for established professionals seeking to sharpen skills or add new ones, and education and business partnerships that help meet the needs of both learners and employers are expanding.

Maine’s education pipeline is one of our greatest assets. It helps strengthen our top asset: Maine people. A strong Maine economy requires a robust workforce that has the education and skills needed to thrive. To quote this paper’s Editorial Board, “Helping people find a way to stay in college is a long-term investment in the state’s future.”

It is important that we solve the current labor shortage, and that we keep the future strength of our workforce front of mind, including that advancing one’s education is critical to the long-term strength of Maine people and our economy. We thank this paper for highlighting that declining college enrollment is a trend Maine cannot ignore.

Clif Greim
president, Frosty Hill Consulting; board chair, Maine State Chamber of Commerce

Dana Connors
president and CEO, Maine State Chamber of Commerce

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