Bill seeks to address job skills gap

5:36 PM, Mar 18, 2013   |    comments
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PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Legislators are putting extensive time and effort into crafting a bill designed to address the job skills gap in Maine by training potential employees with the tools that are in high demand.

While it may sound fairly simple to train people for the jobs that are available, the problem is complex, that's why legislators have formed a special committee and listened closely to business leaders and educators to develop a plan that will provide results.

John Fitzsimmons, president of the Maine Community College System, has been helping prepare people for meaningful jobs in Maine for more than three decades and says the skills gap that exists here should have received more attention than it has before now.

"It has been lost in several committees in the legislature, so it is all in pieces," he explained as he spoke to the committee.  "You have given us the first opportunity to pull it all together and have a cohesive discussion about what it can be and what it can offer to our state."

The bill, known as LD 90: An Act to Strengthen Maine's Workforce and Economic Future, contains many components, including funding to expand programs at colleges that teach people skills that are in high demand and have waiting lists of students, streamlining the transfer of credits between the state's community colleges and the University of Maine system, establishing programs to help bring employers and educators together to discuss and plan for future job growth and funding programs that already help retrain people for the jobs that are available.

"This is fantastic," exlaimed Lisa Martin, executive director of the Maine Manufacturers Association.  "We have worked so long and so hard and here it is, we are hearing people support these efforts to really link the economy with the demand side, and the data, and the education system.  It is all good."


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