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Updated: June 6, 2022

Mills announces $12M to more than double apprenticeships in Maine

people and podium Courtesy / Office of Gov. Janet Mills Gov. Janet Mills announced the expansion of apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship opportunities through awards totaling $12.3 million to 14 organizations. Mills made the announcement at Lewiston Adult Education.

Awards totaling $12.3 million to 14 organizations will expand apprenticeship opportunities across Maine in more than 50 new occupations.

Gov. Janet Mills said the expansion is part of her administration’s effort to strengthen Maine’s workforce through the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan. The funding is expected to reach more than 3,000 Maine people, doubling today’s total of 1,175 apprentices.

Registered apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships are considered effective tools for workers to build their skill set and connect to high-wage careers and for employers to recruit and retain workers. In the past two years, Maine apprentices who completed their program increased their average wages by nearly 40%, and 94% of apprentices have continued employment with the business who sponsored them.

“There are currently some major workforce needs throughout the state of Maine,” said Dan Coffey, director of the Cianbro Institute and a Maine Apprenticeship Council member. “These relationships will be critical in identifying the right programs to expand and ensuring they align with the needs. The earn-while-you-learn apprenticeship model is a great opportunity for people to embark on a fruitful career without accumulating a lot of debt.”

The organizations will partner with the Maine Department of Labor’s Registered Apprenticeship Program to expand or develop new apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs. In total, the organizations are expected to create new training and work opportunities for more than 1,000 new apprentices and 2,000 new pre-apprentices. The money is also expected to add over 150 new employer sponsors to Maine’s current total of 121 registered sponsors.

The awards are expected to create new apprenticeships in more than 50 new occupations — such as emergency medical technician, roofing technician, lodging manager, accounting technician, customer service and operations management.

The awards are backed by $11 million from the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan and $1.3 million from U.S. Department of Labor’s State Apprenticeship Expansion, Equity, and Innovation Grant.

“Apprenticeships are a win for our workers, our employers, and our economy, providing on-the-job training that results in a stable workforce, good-paying jobs, and a stronger, more diverse economy,” said Mills.

“These funds will allow organizations across Maine to expand or create new apprenticeship opportunities and more than double the number of apprentices, helping to get more people — especially younger folks — into new, exciting fields that can provide a good paycheck and strengthen our economy.”

The expansion also aims to increase access for under-represented workers such as women, people of color, people with disabilities, and justice-involved individuals, said Laura Fortman, commissioner of the Maine Department of Labor. 

Earning wages from the start, most apprentices have little to no debt when they graduate and statistically earn much higher wages as they become more and more skilled, said Jennifer McKenna, chair of the Maine Apprenticeship Council. 

“In a competitive job market, apprenticeship helps employers find and retain their future workforce, utilizing customized training for their specific business,” McKenna said.

The 14 organizations awarded grants are:

• Associated General Contractors of Maine will develop a pre-apprenticeship Immersion Program, designed for local graduating high school students as an introduction to trades, as well as expand apprenticeship programs for new crane operator, heavy highway construction laborer, commercial carpenter and electrician.

• Educate Maine plans to develop infrastructure pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs to lead into occupations such as HVAC technician, maintenance mechanic, and stationery engineer, in partnership with Jackson Laboratory, Hancock County Technical Center, MDI Adult Education, and RSU 24 Adult Education.

• Foster Career and Technical Education Center in Farmington plans to become an intermediary sponsor of apprenticeship to serve current high school students through the development of a new pre-apprenticeship program that will include core academics and basic skill building and connect to registered apprenticeship opportunities under development with local employers in construction, healthcare, manufacturing, and culinary arts.

• General Dynamics Bath Iron Works will expand its manufacturing technician pre-apprenticeship program to increase the pipeline of individuals for its apprenticeship programs in partnership with Southern Maine Community College.

• Gorham School District plans to expand its training programs for current high school students into pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship offerings for Certified Nursing Assistant, CDL driver and early childhood educator programs.

• HospitalityMaine Education Foundation aims to develop seven new apprenticeship occupations for the Hospitality Industry including event planner and manager, kitchen manager, lodging manager and accounting technician and increase the uptake of apprenticeship opportunities within the hospitality industry by supporting several employers in becoming sub-sponsors of apprenticeship.

• Industrial Roofing Co. of Lewiston will establish a new registered apprenticeship program in roofing by using grant funds to certify trainers as National Center for Construction Education & Research instructors to deliver training and certification for new apprentices.

• Lewiston Adult Education/Lewiston Public Schools plans to become a registered intermediary apprenticeship sponsor and create pre-apprenticeship programs in the construction trades and healthcare occupations including personal support specialist, CAN and medical assistant.

• Maine AFL-CIO plans to develop three new pre-apprenticeship programs focused on providing multi-craft core curriculum in partnership with IBEW 1253, New England Laborers Training Academy, Maine Building and Construction Trades Council, and RSU 19.

• MaineHealth will develop pre-apprenticeship tracks for phlebotomy, CNA and medical assistant and expand outreach to increase enrollment in existing apprenticeship programs.

• Portland Adult Education will create pre-apprenticeship opportunities in healthcare and clean energy in partnership with ReVision Energy, MaineHealth, and Northern Light Health, with a focus on providing opportunities for non-native English speakers.

• ReVision Energy, an apprenticeship sponsor since 2019, will expand apprenticeship programming through enhancing their existing electrician apprenticeship program and expanding into three new occupations: customer service, technical sales, and operations management through partnerships with Portland Adult Education and Learning Works.

• Somerset Career & Technical Center will hire an Apprenticeship Navigator to expand existing apprenticeship programming and develop a new pre-apprenticeship program that will enable more students to be hired as apprentices in banking, insurance, HVAC, business management, and other fields.

• Washington County Community College will hire an Apprenticeship Navigator to expand apprenticeship capacity and support apprentices and pre-apprentices in many fields including aquaculture, retail, and healthcare.

The Maine Department of Labor accepted applications from organizations through Feb. 23. Twenty-six applications were received, and funding was awarded with a focus on promoting expansion within sectors harmed by the pandemic.

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