By Gary Merrill, Hussey Seating Company, North Berwick
EDITOR’S NOTE: This letter to the editor from Gary Merrill of Hussey Seating Company in North Berwick was originally printed in the Portland Press Herald on November 4. It can be accessed online at www.pressherald.com/2019/11/04/letter-to-the-editor-employers-back-workforce-development-efforts.
Dead River CEO Deanna Sherman outlined her concerns about Maine’s looming workforce shortage and its impact on Maine’s economy in a recent opinion piece. As CEO of one of Maine’s oldest family-owned businesses, I share many of her concerns and join her in a sense of urgency. Despite offering competitive pay and impressive benefits we often still struggle to meet our employment needs for a fairly simple reason: There aren’t enough of the post-secondary credentialed Mainers that we need.
To help meet Maine’s workforce crisis head-on and resolve it, an initiative called MaineSpark has brought together partners including schools, higher education institutions, businesses, government agencies, nonprofits and more to make sure that 60 percent of Mainers have a post-secondary degree or credential of value by 2025.
Sherman cited a recent ReadyNation report indicating that, in the next six years, Maine employers will need an additional 158,000 workers with degrees or credentials. In light of this, 60 percent by 2025 is what it will take for Maine to turn this crisis around and remain economically competitive.
Here at Hussey Seating, we too need a diverse set of skills and credentials to continue to make the global impact that we do. Programs Sherman cited such as Bridge Academy Maine and career and technical education programs across Maine are preparing Maine’s youth with the technical and professional skills needed to fill this gap. The work these programs and dozens of others are doing is invaluable.