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Experts weigh in on what Mills' apprenticeship expansion would do for Maine

Gov. Janet Mills announced Friday that $12.3 million will go towards increasing apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship opportunities in Maine.

LEWISTON, Maine — Maine is preparing to invest millions of dollars to help strengthen the state's workforce through apprenticeships.

"Apprenticeships are a win for our workers, our employers and our economy, providing on the job training that results in a stable workforce, good-paying jobs, and a stronger, more diverse economy," Governor Janet Mills (D-Maine) said. 

Gov. Mills made the announcement on Friday outside of Lewiston Adult Education. According to Mills, $12.3 million will go to 14 organization across the state to grow apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs. 

Mills anticipates this funding will help create 1000 new apprenticeships, and 2000 new pre-apprenticeships, which would more than double Maine's current total of 1,175. 

The 14 organizations receiving funding to expand apprenticeship opportunities are the Associated General Contractors of Maine, Educate Maine, Foster Career and Technical Education Center, General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, Gorham School District, HospitalityMaine Education Foundation, Industrial Roofing Company, Lewiston Adult Education/Lewiston Public Schools, Maine AFL-CIO, MaineHealth, Portland Adult Education, ReVision Energy, Somerset Career & Technical Center and Washington County Community College.

"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 somebody who's done that for 10 or 15 years," Maine AFL-CIO Executive Director Matt Schlobohm said. 

In addition to expanding the number of apprenticeships, this funding will also allow for the creation of new apprenticeship programs, like at Lewiston Adult Education.

"We're really looking at, how do we develop apprenticeship level programming from the ground up," Jennifer Tiner, Director of Lewiston Adult Education said. "We have an opportunity here to take some of the integrated education and training that we have done and really boost it to the next level."

Funding for this initiative includes $11 million from Gov. Mills' 'Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan' as well as $1.3 million from U.S. Department of Labor’s State Apprenticeship Expansion, Equity, and Innovation Grant.

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