February 27, 2009

By Ramona du Houx

Governor John E. Baldacci  announced in February that weatherization training courses are now available to Mainers statewide. MaineHousing and the University of Maine system are teaming up to help people take advantage of new job opportunities in the home weatherization field.

“Weatherization is a growing field with great growth potential, and it serves the dual purpose of making our housing more energy efficient at the same time,” said Governor John E. Baldacci in announcing the new initiative.

“With the new federal recovery package expected to finance even more weatherization efforts, this increased training could not come at a better time. Maine is well-positioned to use whatever additional federal funds become available and weatherize even more Maine homes, reducing our energy use and our reliance on imported foreign heating oil.”

Starting March 3, people interested in learning how to become Weatherization Technicians can receive their training via Interactive Television (ITV) at one of 14 University of Maine campuses and centers throughout Maine.

“The University of Maine at Augusta is happy to be part of this timely effort to bring weatherization training to communities across Maine,” said Dr. Allyson Hughes Handley, UMA President. “This program is yet another example of our partnership with Maine State Government and with other organizations to deliver cost-efficient solutions to statewide training needs.”

MaineHousing will offer the training course, which will be broadcast from the Bennett Katz Library at the University of Maine at Augusta (UMA). The course runs for 3 ½ weeks, meeting Tuesdays from 7-9:45 p.m. and Thursdays from 4-6:45 p.m.

The course will be broadcast at the following University of Maine campuses and centers: Bangor, Bath, Dover-Foxcroft, East Millinocket, Ellsworth, Houlton, Machias, Presque Isle, Rockland, Rumford, Saco, Sanford, South Paris and Wiscasset.

MaineHousing has been conducting traditional classroom Weatherization Technician training courses since fall and has trained more than 100 people so far. But more people with weatherization skills are needed, MaineHousing Director Dale McCormick said.

“We are seeing a growing demand for people with weatherization skills right now,” she said. “This is a real opportunity for people seeking employment, or for building contractors who want to expand their expertise and job market.”

McCormick noted that many of the publicly funded weatherization programs require technicians to be certified through MaineHousing. People taking the course and passing the test at the end will be certified.

Weatherization – making homes more energy efficient, reducing use of imported heating fuel, and reducing our carbon footprint – is a priority of both President Obama and Governor Baldacci, McCormick noted.

Weatherization technicians are professionals in demand and people who receive the training can seek assistance with employment through the Maine Department of Labor’s network of CareerCenters. Some individuals might qualify for training funds for this course; they should visit a CareerCenter to inquire further. To locate a CareerCenter or get help finding a job, people can go to http://www.mainecareercenter.com/ or call 1-888-457-8883/TTY: 1-800-794-1110.

Persons interested in taking the training course can sign up by contacting Kathy Abbondanzio of MaineHousing at 624-5716 or kabbondanzio@mainehousing.org. Information on registration is also posted on our Web site at http://www.mainehousing.org. The cost of the course is $250.

For more information on the weatherization program, visit http://www.mainehousing.org.