Effort proposes upgrading CTE infrastructure to help Maine’s workforce

March 17, 2021

By Ramona du Houx

On March 17, 2021 the Speaker of the House Ryan Fecteau of Biddeford introduced legislation to invest in Maine’s Career and Technical Education Center infrastructure. 

LD 144, “An Act To Fund Capital Improvements to Career and Technical Education Centers and Regions To Bolster Maine’s Future Workforce” had a public hearing before the Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee in the afternoon.

Maine’s public education system has 28 CTE schools that provide Maine students with training for careers in welding, nursing, computer programming, heating and cooling systems, building trades, early childhood education, automotive technology, and culinary arts. 

America lacks behind in training for particle high-paying skills. The need for more access to these types of training programs has become more evident during the pandemic. The race to attain college degrees has left good job openings vacant. While it’s true college graduates make more than people who don’t go to college. These skilled trades also are high paying job sectors.

“In Maine, we have the schools, the dedicated educators and driven students. But, in order to meet the needs of our students and our economy, we need to ensure the equipment and infrastructure at these locations are maintained, repaired and replaced. If we want the next generation of Mainers in the trades to have access to good-paying jobs that we know there will be need for, we need to invest in equipment and capital improvements today,” said Speaker Fecteau.“Many of the careers that our CTEs specialize in provide good-paying jobs to working people. Welders, HVAC installers, machinists, and licensed practical nurses all have median incomes over $40,000. This investment in our CTE system is not merely an investment in equipment, it will serve as a catalyst for economic activity.”

LD 144 would provide Maine CTE schools with funding for needed capital improvements to equip Maine’s workforce with the tools they need to learn. The bill authorizes the issuance and use of up to $20,000,000 in Maine Governmental Facilities Authority securities for capital improvements to career and technical education centers.

In 2020, Speaker Fecteau met with CTE centers across the state to assess their capital needs.

“It became clear that CTE centers are in severe need of investment. Oxford Hills Technical School in Norway is looking to add a much-needed welding program, which means investing roughly $500,000 in equipment and updating a space to suit the program’s needs. Region Two School in Houlton needs updated equipment for its forestry program, including a processor, forwarder, and a skidder. The forest products sector is important to rural Maine’s economy, and this equipment, crucial to training students for today’s job, will cost more than $1.8 million,” he said.

According to the Maine Department of Labor, by 2028 Maine will need nearly 200 welders, 287 electricians, 700 carpenters, and over 900 nurses.

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