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November 21, 2017

Municipalities prepare for workforce 'silver tsunami'

As the state faces a workforce shortage due to aging demographics, the Maine Municipal Association is gearing up to provide tools to Maine towns and cities so they can attract younger workers and educate residents about available opportunities for municipal work.

Currently, many people don't think of the local town office as a place to look for a career, Eric Conrad, director of communication and educational services for the association, told the Morning Sentinel.

The municipal association, which is working with the Maine Development Foundation to look at the issues, is creating a grant fund for summer internships to help member municipalities hire students to learn about municipal government. It also is working with the Margaret Chase Smith Center for Public Policy at the University of Maine in Orono, where towns will be able submit applications to be matched with an intern. The association will pick two to four members to provide partial funding for the internship, Conrad said.

Aging demographics isn't the only reason why staffing has become a primary concern for many towns: A stigma often attached to government and municipal pay are also problems.

Municipalities might be forced to raise wages, Larry Mead, president of Maine Town, City and County Management Association, told the newspaper.

"There's been a long period since the recession in 2008, where wages grew very, very slowly, including on the municipal side," Mead said.

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