AUGUSTA – Today, the Legislature's Workforce Committee held a special meeting to continue its focus on strengthening Maine’s workforce and growing the state’s economy. During the three hour meeting, the committee heard updates from a number of panelists including John Dorrer, a nationally recognized workforce expert and Steve Levesque, executive director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority.
During today’s meeting, the committee started setting its agenda for the second session of the 126th Legislature which convenes in January 2014. Work readiness, business growth and entrepreneurship in Maine are among the topics the committee will address.
“Whether it’s the first step or the next step in growing business, the committee will focus on how to grow successful businesses in Maine,” said Senator Linda Valentino of Saco, the Senate Chair of the Committee. “It is exciting to be shifting gears and looking at business growth and entrepreneurship. And, also for us to continue collaborating and strengthening our working relationships with the community colleges, the university system and business and workforce leaders in Maine.”
Last session, the Workforce Committee developed a first-of-its-kind workforce development bill to address the skills gap in Maine. The bipartisan law was unanimously recommended by the committee and overwhelmingly supported by both the House and the Senate.
The law creates new degree programs in high-demand, high-wage fields and expands existing programs such as nursing, to reduce the backlog of enrollment wait lists. The measure also creates a scholarship fund for Mainers who started post-secondary education degree programs, but have not yet completed their degrees, and creates a first-ever uniform and seamless credit transfer system to reduce the need for students to repeat classes when transferring between the University of Maine System and the Maine Community College System.
Additionally, the measure restores funding for the Maine Apprenticeship Program, expands the Jobs for Maine Graduates career preparation program, and creates and incumbent worker training program to provide training for workers to upgrade their skills at existing jobs.
“Workers, businesses and their communities will soon benefit in truly concrete ways from our workforce legislation,” said House Majority Leader Seth Berry of Bowdoinham, the House Chair of the Workforce Committee. “It’s a great example of how such bipartisan efforts can improve the lives of our middle class and strengthen our economy, and it’s the kind of work we’re committed to.”
At the start of the 126th Legislature in January, Democratic leaders created the Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic future to address the state’s skills gap, grow small businesses, and strengthen the economic engines of our state--our downtowns and Main Streets.
Members of the committee will be attending the grand opening of the precision machining technology facility at York Community College on September 20. The committee is scheduled to meet again on Tuesday, October 1 at 9a.m.
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