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ACAP announces opportunity for Aroostook County women

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Women in Aroostook County will have an opportunity to receive free training and valuable credentials that can help secure employment with good companies that offer competitive wages and benefits.

Aroostook County Action Program recently received a federal grant to help train women for high-wage careers in non-traditional occupations among three counties in rural Maine: Aroostook, Washington, and Hancock.

The goal of the grant is two-fold:  prepare women for immediate employment or facilitate partnerships with local businesses to create apprenticeship opportunities. ACAP will match female participants’ strengths with the needs of the employer for the intended successful outcome—long-term employment for the women and a committed workforce for the employer.

By participating in the grant, women can earn a no cost WorkReady credential recognized by employers across the state. This national program will set them apart as a candidate ready for a career—not just a job. Some local businesses have agreed to interview those who successfully complete WorkReady. Participants will also earn an OSHA 10 certificate, which provides an overview of health and safety hazards present in the workplace. This certificate is accepted in 50 states and ensures employers that safety is important to the applicant.

“I would love to hire more women for our plant,” said Judy Dionne, Human Resources representative from Huber Engineered Woods. “We pay well and have an excellent benefits package. While there is a certain amount of manual labor, much of the plant is run by computer software. Computer skills are very important to us.”

ACAP was among four grant recipients nation-wide to earn the Women in Apprenticeship and Non-Traditional Occupations (WANTO) grant from the US Department of Labor.

“It is very exciting to have been selected from agencies across the country,” said Christy Daggett, Senior Manager at ACAP Workforce Development. “This grant is particularly important for Aroostook County as manufacturing, agriculture, forest products, and trade-related occupations make up a large part our economy. Employment in these areas would offer women good pay and benefits, which will lead to economic security for more Aroostook County families.”

One in ten jobs in Aroostook County is in manufacturing. According to the Maine Center on Workforce Research and Information, the 1,600 manufacturing workers in Aroostook earn an average wage of $16.44 hourly – or $34,195.00 a year. For forestry occupations, the average wage is over $41,000 yearly. Both of these fields offer competitive entry-level wages and benefits.

Once the women are placed in employment or apprenticeships, ACAP will assist with retention services. All women will have a career counselor and mentor who will follow up on their progress through the first year. The cost of employee turnover can have a significant impact on any business’ bottom line. These retention services can help to ensure long-term success. Businesses who hire a WANTO participant also may be eligible to claim the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.

Women or businesses interested in learning more about this grant can contact Erin Benson at 554-4165 or ebenson@acap-me.org.

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