AUGUSTA — Governor Janet Mills announced Tuesday the Maine Department of Labor is making available up to $12 million in grant funding for Maine businesses to significantly expand apprenticeships.
These apprenticeships are part of a larger effort by the Mills Administration to address the longstanding workforce shortage issue in Maine, a news release stated.
Backed by $11 million in federal funding from the Governor’s Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan and additional funding from U.S. Department of Labor’s State Apprenticeship Expansion, Equity, and Innovation (SAEEI) Grant, these new grants can be used by businesses, labor unions, community-based organizations or industry associations to partner with Maine Department of Labor’s Registered Apprenticeship Program to develop new apprenticeship programs and pre-apprenticeship programs or expand existing apprenticeship programs.
Registered apprenticeship is a proven approach that connects workers to high-quality career pathways and meets employers’ talent needs by preparing and developing their current and future workforce. Apprenticeship programs help employers by upskilling and retaining workers and leads to wage growth for workers—both imperatives for Maine’s economic recovery.
The State’s Registered Apprenticeship Program currently has 1,177 apprentices and 122 registered sponsors, representing 321 participating businesses in Maine. Apprentices in Maine who completed their program in the last two years, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, increased their wages, on average, by nearly 40 percent, and 94 percent of apprentices continue their employment with their apprenticeship sponsoring business.
Grant funding will be awarded with a focus on promoting expansion within these three COVID-affected sectors as well as other sectors, including but not limited to, clean energy, infrastructure (construction, trades, broadband, logistics), hospitality, education, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and retail.
Interested businesses, unions, education and training providers, community-based organizations, workforce development partners, and/or current or potential apprenticeship intermediaries such as business associations or chambers of commerce can apply for awards.
Awards are expected to range from $250,000 to $3 million. The number and size of awards will depend on the number of proposals received, industry sector(s) served, anticipated number of apprentices served, and available funds.
Interested applicants can find more information, including eligibility requirements, and apply at maine.gov/dafs/bbm/procurementservices/vendors/grants. Proposal submissions must be received no later than 11:59 p.m. on February 23.