Increased funding to CTE programs is crucial to helping Maine students acquire the skills needed to be successful in today’s workplace
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following testimony was delivered by Megan Diver, senior government relations specialist for the Maine State Chamber of Commerce in support of LD 1947, An Act To Fund Capital Improvements to Career and Technical Education Centers, and, LD 2022, An Act To Provide Funding for Capital Improvements and Equipment for Career and Technical Education Centers and Regions, at a public hearing held on Thursday, February 6, 2020, before the Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs. We have reprinted it here for your review.
Senator Millett, Representative Kornfield, distinguished members of the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee: I am Megan Sanborn, senior government relations specialist at the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, a statewide business association representing both large and small businesses. The Maine State Chamber of Commerce is also proud to be a co-leader of the MaineSpark Coalition that is dedicated to achieving the state goal that 60 percent of Maine adults will hold a degree or a credential of value in demand by Maine employers by 2025.
With education-attainment levels rising and trade skills and technology constantly evolving in the modern economy, there is an increasing need for well-trained and well-educated employees. Therefore, the Chamber believes that education or training is needed beyond a high school diploma.
Maine is faced with a workforce shortage across all sectors and regions; by 2025 Maine will need approximately 158,000 more workers than exist here today. For a state facing an enormous workforce shortage, we need to establish alternative pathways for our future workforce that ultimately lead to an increase of workers into the workforce earning a paycheck and helping our local businesses thrive.
The Maine State Chamber strongly supports LD 1947 and LD 2022 that would help Maine students acquire the necessary skills to succeed in today’s high-skilled workforce. These bills would benefit and advance career and technical education (CTE) programs in Maine and increase student participation in work-based learning and foster industry-recognized and postsecondary credentials.
Increased funding to CTE programs is crucial to helping Maine students acquire the skills needed to be successful in today’s workplace. Because employers are reporting a shortage of skilled workers to fill in-demand positions, ensuring that secondary and post-secondary institutions offer modern, quality and relevant career and technical education (CTE) programs remains a priority so that we can develop and grow our state’s workforce. As competition for high-skilled labor increases and as Maine’s economy reaches full employment, every effort must be made to close the skills gaps that many industries face. CTE offers students opportunities for career awareness and preparation by providing them with the academic and technical knowledge and work-related skills.
Research shows that several states have benefitted from investments into CTE programs, such as Connecticut, Washington, and Tennessee. For example, Tennessee attributes $13 million in annual tax revenues to CTE program graduates. The U.S. Department of Education data explores and highlights CTE access, participation, and educational and labor market outcomes. The data shows that participating in CTE can provide students with a strong foundation of technical knowledge and employability skills to complement their academic studies and prepare them for both college and career options.
Thank you for the opportunity to support LDs 1947 and 2022.