SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — In an effort to combat Maine's workforce crisis, a historic investment in the state's employees was announced Tuesday morning.
On the campus of Southern Maine Community College, the Maine Community College System announced $60 million will be used to train and develop future and current workers around the state.
“We’re going to come out of this pandemic bigger, better, and more prosperous, than ever before," Greg Powell, chairman of the board of trustees for the Harold Alfond Foundation said.
The foundation invested $15.5 million into this venture combined with $35 million from Governor Janet Mills' Jobs and Recovery Plan, and $10 million from private sector businesses, grants, and other funds.
“We will give 24,000 Mainers new opportunities and through them, Maine business new opportunities to grow and prosper," David Daigler, President of the Maine Community College System, said.
The funding will support the new Harold Alfond Center for the Advancement of Maine's Workforce.
“It’s a virtual center. It will have a statewide presence and it will build on the relationships we have established with our business partners," Daigler added. “The center is unlike any educational resource we are aware of.”
The partnership and teamwork behind this effort are poised to make an impact on Maine's economy. Jon Mason is the Vice President of Human Affairs for General Dynamics Bath Iron Works and said it's been a challenge to find workers.
“Or having people available that want to work that don’t have the skills that align with the jobs that are available," he added.
The training has already begun at the new virtual center, but it will be ramped up when the funding from Mills' Jobs and Recovery Plan becomes available on October 18.
The first employees set to utilize this new resource include 3,800 health care workers, 1,400 clean energy employees, 1,200 tradespeople, 900 manufacturers, 500 hospitality workers, 500 educators, and 300 computer technicians.
“These industries are at the heart of our post-pandemic economic recovery," Mills said.