The Maine State Chamber of Commerce is continuing its efforts to enhance Maine’s processes for education and workforce development. During the January 26 briefings before the Joint Standing Committee on Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business (IDEA), attendees listened to how Maine’s community colleges, as well as public and private universities, are working to increase value and deliver quality individuals to our workforce.
Through the pandemic, our community college system worked with employers to develop COVID-19 certifications, teaching students best practices and appropriate procedures. This effort allowed business to not only reopen and continue operations but increase consumer confidence as businesses were able to show that their employees were certified in COVID-19 training. The efforts of the community colleges were vital in helping many of Maine’s hospitality businesses be flexible and adapt to external forces applied by the pandemic. The community colleges also expanded their badge and certificate programs to assist students in career development and create an alternative path to degree achievement for non-traditional students.
Maine’s public university system has also been working to meet the growing needs of Maine’s current employers. The university system has expanded its ability to offer master’s and other advanced degrees to students to help Maine employers acquire the talent necessary to remain.
While public universities are feeding the needs of Maine’s current employers, several private universities are developing programs in the technology and science sector as a critical step to entice employers from STEM industries, and other research and development intensive industries, to come to our state.
The Maine State Chamber has also been attending sessions with the Right from The Start Coalition (RFTS). RFTS has been exploring successful early education models from other states to help improve access to critical resources for children and families. Some models work as a hub and spoke, placed strategically throughout the state based on need. These hubs will coordinate together to help families navigate through the system and find resources. The model also works to eliminate efficiencies to increase program serving capacity. While the Maine State Chamber believes that these efforts are a good moral position, it also recognizes the future economic impact. Student performance by the third grade is a strong indicator of their overall future school and career performance. It is a sound economic position to ensure that we prepare students for primary school so that they can go on to be confident high school graduates who either enter the workforce, prepared to deliver value, or continue to further educational endeavors.
If you would like more information about the issues discussed in this article, please contact Simon West by calling (207) 623-4568, ext. 117, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.