Opinion

A well-prepared workforce benefits us all

To the editor:

As president of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and a proud native of Aroostook County, two recent articles about efforts to keep young people in The County caught my attention: one on the Aroostook Aspirations Initiative’s Gauvin Scholars scholarship and mentorship program, and the other on colleges and universities partnering with employers.

These are the kinds of efforts that hold great promise for young people and businesses alike.

  Employers of all sizes and in all economic sectors across Maine need more workers, and they need workers with the skills that match their needs. Preparing high school students for higher education, offering mentorship opportunities, and pairing post-secondary students with employers more formally through job shadowing, internships, apprenticeships and more will help prepare students for good jobs after graduating, set them up for success in securing employment in their field of choice, and will help Maine employers — and Maine’s economy — succeed and grow.

  Growing Maine’s workforce, as well as increasing their skill level, is an economic imperative for Maine. Maine’s 10-year economic development strategy identified the goal of adding 75,000 people to our workforce by 2029. MaineSpark, a coalition of more than 100 Maine businesses, schools, universities, nonprofits, government agencies and others also identified and set a key goal the coalition’s partners are working toward: by 2025, 60 percent of Mainers will hold education and workforce credentials. Achieving this goal will position Maine people, families, communities, employers, and the state’s economy for success.

  Setting up young people to succeed, creating opportunities that connect employers with students — who after all are prospective employees — and tying real world experience with students’ post-secondary studies will open doors for students, spark their interest in careers with employers right here in Maine, and in turn, boost Maine’s economy. These impressive initiatives will help give students in The County reason to stay and can serve as models for other regions of Maine to replicate.

Dana Connors
President and CEO
Maine State Chamber of Commerce
Augusta

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