Maine increasing spending on apprenticeships to address workforce shortage

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Maine Gov. Janet Mills announced new spending for apprenticeships on Friday, a state program she and participants described as a way for job seekers to learn while they earn, while helping stabilize the workforce.The $12.3 million in grants to businesses, schools, and nonprofits comes primarily from federal coronavirus relief funds and will pay for 1,000 apprenticeships, along with 2,000 “pre-apprenticeships” at schools like Lewiston Adult Education, where the awards were revealed.”With employers looking to hire people all across Maine, paid apprenticeship programs are a great opportunity to get more people, especially young people – don’t know what they want to do yet in life – into a new exciting field that can provide a good paycheck,” Mills said.One of the 14 grant recipients is Industrial Roofing Company, in Lewiston, which will use its $500,000 grant to train 100 apprentices over three years.”A new employee can start with no experience and learn everything from using a tape measure to installing very complex roofing and siding solutions,” IRC President Mike Davis said.Other apprenticeship sponsors who won grants include solar power installer Revision Energy, navy shipbuilder Bath Iron Works, and the Maine AFL-CIO.”There’s a reason there’s a phrase ‘tricks of the trade,’ right? If you’re building a house, if you’re pulling wire, if you’re bending pipe, if you’re trying to learn how to do a difficult weld, you can’t learn that in a book. You need to be working with someone who’s done that for 10 or 15 years,” Maine AFL-CIO Executive Director Matt Schlobohm said.The grants are intended to more than double the number of employers registered to sponsor apprenticeships, currently 121, as well as the number of enrolled apprentices, currently 1,175, according to the governor’s office.The nonprofit organization Educate Maine will work in partnership with Bar Harbor-based Jackson Laboratory to create apprenticeships for jobs such as HVAC technicians and maintenance mechanics.“It’s really about partnering schools and employers together and then having a clear pathway with clear competencies for young people as well as adults to go into the trades and variety of occupations,” Educate Maine Executive Director Jason Judd said.The program is expected to boost other occupations like construction and iron workers, electricians, plumbers and pipefitters, certified nursing assistants and emergency medical technicians. During an apprenticeship, wages rise, on average, by 40%.“It allows you to actually earn while you’re learning a new job,” said Maine Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman, whose department oversees the program. “With an apprenticeship program, employers actively engaged in identifying the skills and making sure the employees they’re working with are developing those skills.” According to the Mills administration, 94% of Maine apprentices who completed their program in the past two years remained employed by their business sponsor.Mills said, “They’re a win for working people, they’re a win for employers, they’re a win for our economy.”

Maine Gov. Janet Mills announced new spending for apprenticeships on Friday, a state program she and participants described as a way for job seekers to learn while they earn, while helping stabilize the workforce.

The $12.3 million in grants to businesses, schools, and nonprofits comes primarily from federal coronavirus relief funds and will pay for 1,000 apprenticeships, along with 2,000 “pre-apprenticeships” at schools like Lewiston Adult Education, where the awards were revealed.

“With employers looking to hire people all across Maine, paid apprenticeship programs are a great opportunity to get more people, especially young people – don’t know what they want to do yet in life – into a new exciting field that can provide a good paycheck,” Mills said.

One of the 14 grant recipients is Industrial Roofing Company, in Lewiston, which will use its $500,000 grant to train 100 apprentices over three years.

“A new employee can start with no experience and learn everything from using a tape measure to installing very complex roofing and siding solutions,” IRC President Mike Davis said.

Other apprenticeship sponsors who won grants include solar power installer Revision Energy, navy shipbuilder Bath Iron Works, and the Maine AFL-CIO.

“There’s a reason there’s a phrase ‘tricks of the trade,’ right? If you’re building a house, if you’re pulling wire, if you’re bending pipe, if you’re trying to learn how to do a difficult weld, you can’t learn that in a book. You need to be working with someone who’s done that for 10 or 15 years,” Maine AFL-CIO Executive Director Matt Schlobohm said.

The grants are intended to more than double the number of employers registered to sponsor apprenticeships, currently 121, as well as the number of enrolled apprentices, currently 1,175, according to the governor’s office.

The nonprofit organization Educate Maine will work in partnership with Bar Harbor-based Jackson Laboratory to create apprenticeships for jobs such as HVAC technicians and maintenance mechanics.

“It’s really about partnering schools and employers together and then having a clear pathway with clear competencies for young people as well as adults to go into the trades and variety of occupations,” Educate Maine Executive Director Jason Judd said.

The program is expected to boost other occupations like construction and iron workers, electricians, plumbers and pipefitters, certified nursing assistants and emergency medical technicians.

During an apprenticeship, wages rise, on average, by 40%.

“It allows you to actually earn while you’re learning a new job,” said Maine Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman, whose department oversees the program. “With an apprenticeship program, employers actively engaged in identifying the skills and making sure the employees they’re working with are developing those skills.”

According to the Mills administration, 94% of Maine apprentices who completed their program in the past two years remained employed by their business sponsor.

Mills said, “They’re a win for working people, they’re a win for employers, they’re a win for our economy.”

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