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May 24, 2018

Portland vocational training to boost building trades

The city of Portland has two new initiatives to provide vocational opportunities in the building trades.

The Forecaster reported that Youth Build Alternatives Bridge, providing three-month internships for students, is offered through Learning Works. Building Pathways Maine, a free, three-week program to provide construction training, is aimed at adult learners, women, people of color and immigrants in and around Portland.

"Without an all-hands-on-deck approach, we'll never be able to meet the skills and personnel gap in Maine's construction industry," John Napolitano, president of the Maine State Building & Construction Trades Council, told the newspaper.

The programs come in a tight labor market that's forcing contractors to strategize to meet demand. Firms are tackling these challenges in a variety of ways, from partnerships to workforce training to recruiting campaigns.

Cianbro established its own workforce development center, The Cianbro Institute, in 2007 and opened a new facility for the program in 2017. The company's program is "earn while you learn." It also has a Construction Bootcamp for high school career and technical education students, college interns and adults entering the industry.

"Like everyone else, we've seen the workforce market tighten in the last 18 to 24 months," Jeff Zachau, president of Zachau Construction, told Mainebiz in January.

Southern Maine Community College launched a program in fall 2017 to help the state's construction industry find workers with high-demand trade skills. Its Construction Institute aims to address the changing needs of students and the construction industry by offering convenient schedules and stackable courses that allow students to progress at their own pace.

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