Maine’s Workforce Committee receives award from MDF for Innovative Workforce Development Initiatives

By Ramona du Houx - October 7th, 2014 

Maine State Capitol at nite. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Today the Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future received the President’s Award from the Maine Development Foundation for their comprehensive and innovative approach to workforce development in Maine.

At the start of the 126th Legislature, Senate President Justin Alfond and House Speaker Mark Eves pledged to make economic growth and job creation a top priority of Democrats. With the creation of the Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future, they delivered on this promise. Today’s recognition by the Maine Development Foundation demonstrates the continued success and full realization of this vision.

“It is an honor that MDF would validate the legislature’s priority on Maine’s workforce needs,” said Alfond. “The investment in Maine people and our workforce needs is a way for our state to sustain and attract businesses. The results are a testament to the collaboration the legislature built with the private sector, unions, nonprofits and higher education leaders.”

LD 90, sponsored by Alfond, garnered broad support from all sectors: Maine Community College President John Fitzsimmons, University of Maine Chancellor James Page, former President of the Maine Development Foundation Ed Cervone, Tim Walton from Cianbro and other business and community leaders from across Maine.

“Bipartisanship at the State House begins with listening. We came together with a common goal, listened and learned together, and crafted our legislation using the best and most impactful proposals,” said House Majority Leader Seth Berry of Bowdoinham, the co-chair of the committee. “The outcomes will make a big difference both for Maine’s workforce and economy. It shows how much we can accomplish by working together.”

The Workforce Committee sought to address the “skills gap” in Maine, to ensure that Maine people have the skills that businesses need in today’s economy. Members met with workforce experts, economists, and business leaders over the past year and formulated solutions to lay a foundation for a stronger economic future in Maine.

“The Workforce Committee is a shining example of what can happen when lawmakers from both sides of the aisle work together,” said Senator Linda Valentino, of Saco, Senate Chair of the Committee. “I am proud of the work we have done to strengthen Maine’s workforce and economic future.”

Some of the committee’s initiatives include a needs-based scholarship for adult learners, increased access to community colleges in rural areas, a college credit transfer agreement, an incumbent workers program, and an industry partnerships program to align universities and businesses.

The Workforce Committee was selected for its demonstrated leadership to promote economic growth and development in Maine.