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July 17, 2020

Fed funds to expand Maine's apprenticeship program

welder in action Courtesy of Maine Department of Labor The Maine Department of Labor’s Registered Apprenticeship Program provides hands-on experience and classroom instruction.

A $450,000 injection to a Maine Department of Labor program is expected to broaden the apprenticeships available in the state to include health care, mental health care, addiction treatment and alternative pain management occupations.

The DOL Registered Apprenticeship program received the latest round of funds from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, according to a news release.

“We have long supported efforts to help Maine workers receive the training and resources they need to successfully compete in the global economy, especially amid heightened job insecurity created by the COVID-19 pandemic,” U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine, said in a joint statement. “This important investment will improve the accessibility and affordability of apprenticeships, allowing more Mainers to take advantage of these programs to gain in-demand skills and obtain good-paying jobs.”

The Maine Department of Labor has offered the registered apprentice program for 80 years, and apprenticeships in the state expanded by 40% from 2017 to 2019.

The apprenticeships are designed to meet specific workforce development needs while providing practical experience and related classroom instruction. The state assists businesses in setting up individual programs, and pays up to 50% of the cost of classroom instruction for eligible apprentices.

In 2017, the program served 1,056 apprentices with employer-paid wages.

In 2018, the DOL began trying to raise awareness of the program. The department developed a video, posted on Youtube and elsewhere, that explains how the program works and provides testimonials from employers like Bath Iron Works, Northern Light Health and Boyne Resorts, owner of the Sunday River and Sugarloaf ski areas.

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