Creation of Maine Workforce, Research, Development, and Student Achievement Institute would increase access to accurate, current, and relevant data
Informed decisions would eventually lead Maine's economy to rising wages, a growing labor force, and an infusion of new workers and employers looking to benefit from Maine’s opportunities
On April 27, the Maine State Chamber provided testimony to the Joint Standing Committee on Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business (IDEA) on LD 1517, An Act To Establish the Maine Workforce, Research, Development, and Student Achievement Institute. The bill is sponsored by a co-chair of the committee, Sen. Glenn "Chip" Curry (D-Waldo). The purpose of the institute is to provide policymakers with relevant information regarding many economic factors, such as research and development, economic and workforce development, innovation, and student debt. Committee members expressed concerns and asked questions about the cost of the institute. The bill’s sponsor pointed out that the cost would be shared between the state and the organizations represented by the institute’s researchers. The sponsor also discussed how the IDEA committee weighs in on a lot of high-dollar legislation. This institute would provide legislators with the ability to make informed decisions and spend money more appropriately, increasing the overall effectiveness of the IDEA committee’s outcomes.
The Maine State Chamber supported LD 1517, due to its alignment with the Governor’s 10-year economic plan and its ability to further MaineSpark’s goal of having 60% of Maine’s workforce attain either a post-secondary degree or certificate of value, relevant to Maine employers, by 2025. MaineSpark is currently just 9.5% shy of that goal. The Maine State Chamber also supports this bill for the institute's potential to assist the state’s economy in pushing to new heights and closing workforce gaps.
Workforce gaps are generally placed in two categories: First, a shortage of labor, and second, an inappropriate mix of education and skills to fit employer demands. Maine is working against both categories. Maine has for decades struggled with cyclical excess and insufficiency of the different types of education and skills needed by our employers. The creation of this institute will generate a level and strategic approach to building our labor force.
With detailed information about technology, innovation, development, and education, Maine’s workforce will become more productive and efficient. Increased efficiency and productivity often lead to reduced costs per unit of output, higher wages, lower prices, and more robust economic activity from the resulting quantities of production and consumption. With access to accurate, current, and relevant data, the IDEA committee will be equipped to make the decisions that will eventually lead Maine to an economy characterized by rising wages, a growing labor force, and an infusion of new workers and employers looking to benefit from Maine’s opportunities.
The Right from the Start Coalition met and hopes to see Senate President Troy Jackson’s (D-Aroostook) and House Speaker Ryan Fecteau’s (D-Biddeford) bills printed in the upcoming week. The coalition also discussed the American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds and what it means for Mainers. The funds will assist in the form of tax credits, food assistance, health care, and housing assistance. The ARP will be investing more than $6 billion to help rebuild economic security for Mainers faced with job loss, eviction, and hunger. A more detailed look at the funds and those impacted can be found by visiting the Maine Equal Justice League.
If you would like more information about the issues discussed in this article, please contact Simon West at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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