February 2, 2018

UMaine campuses in The County tackle region's workforce challenges

University of Maine at Fort Kent President John Short said collaboration with the University of Maine at Presque Isle will be key for best leveraging resources and meeting workforce development needs and higher education demands.

Short told The Aroostook Republican that nationwide figures — showing four-year college enrollment today at 1.75 million, peaking in 2025, then declining to 1.6 million — are even worse for the northeastern and New England states.

"Demographics is not necessarily destiny," Short said. "But if we don't do anything it will be."

Staying ahead of that curve is vital and collaboration will be an important part of that effort, he said. Collaborative initiatives underway or planned between UMFK and UMaine Presque Isle include a teacher education program and a nursing program.

"Higher education is an essential component of workforce development and the future economic viability of Aroostook County," UMPI President Ray Rice told the newspaper in an email.

In October 2017, University of Maine System Chancellor James Page told Mainebiz that initiatives among northern Maine's three colleges that make it easier and cheaper for residents to earn a college degree — such as UMPI's Competency Based Education bachelor's degree in business administration that costs $2,000 a semester — are examples of innovative steps by UMPI, UMFK and Northern Maine Community College to strengthen educational offerings and the economy in this sparsely populated part of the state.

UMPI also collaborates with Northern Maine Community College.

"Working together, we can steer students to the institution that provides such programming," UMPI President Raymond Rice told Mainebiz. "That will keep more students in the area, including after college, and draw more people from away as well. "This is a partnership that, frankly, for the good of the people of Aroostook County, will need to continue."


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