Committee approves Sen. Curry bill to study workforce development needs in Waldo County

Mon, 05/03/2021 - 11:00am

AUGUSTA — The Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee last week passed a bill from Senator Chip Curry, D-Belfast, to study workforce development needs in Waldo County and to identify solutions to meet those needs.

LD 814, “Resolve, Directing the Maine Community College System To Evaluate the Need To Expand Workforce Training Options in Waldo County,” received a vote of 7-5, with one member absent.

“Understanding the gap between current training needs and training opportunities is the critical first step toward preparing our workforce for the future,” said Sen. Curry. “Right now, we have businesses that can’t find qualified workers, workers who can’t find jobs and a lack of training opportunities in Waldo County. Local training opportunities help us fill local jobs, and help workers build their credentials for well-paying fields that require additional education. I’m grateful to the committee for supporting this bill.”

The bill directs the Maine Community College System to evaluate the need for additional workforce development resources for key industries hiring in Waldo County. These industries include the electrical trades, carpentry, nursing, HVAC and more. The study will also recommend the best methods for expanding workforce training options in Waldo County, including a timeline and associated costs and facility needs.

The Maine Economic Development Strategy identifies two workforce development strategies necessary to build a diverse and sustainable economy: growing local talent and attracting new talent.

“As our economy changes, we know that most jobs will require more than a high school diploma,” a news release stated. “Forty-four percent of the state’s workforce currently has credentials beyond a high school diploma, with a goal set in statute of 60 percent by 2025. These credentials may be a two- or four-year degree, a license in the trades or a professional certificate, with the purpose of building a skilled workforce that can find employment in good-paying, in-demand fields.” 

LD 814 faces further votes in the Senate and the House.