A new $60 million investment in workforce training in Maine will be used to expand education and access to degree and certificate programs for more than 24,000 residents over the next four years.
The Harold Alfond Center for the Advancement of Maine’s Workforce, a virtual center being launched by the Maine Community College System, will pool together resources and funding to coordinate short and longer-term workforce training initiatives and speed the delivery of critical workforce training to both trainees and business partners, the system announced Tuesday.
The center is being funded with a four-year $15.5 million grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation, $35 million in federal COVID relief money from the state’s Jobs and Recovery Plan and another $10 million in matching funds from the private sector, other grants and established workforce funding.
One key aspect of the center’s work will include using the $15.5 million Alfond grant to build on an earlier $3.6 million grant that was used in 2018 to deliver free short-term training in four key industries: healthcare, information technology, construction and manufacturing and the trades. The new grant will provide funding for the center to provide free or discounted short-term training to more than 13,000 people, primarily frontline incumbent workers seeking advanced skills or credentials.
In addition, the $35 million in recovery funds will allow the community college system to expand free workforce training in key industries. Training will be provided at no cost for about 8,500 Mainers in healthcare, the green economy, trades and manufacturing, hospitality, education and computer technology.
The center will also have a major goal of creating new pathways so people getting short-term training can easily continue their educations through the pursuit of certificates, advanced certificates or degrees.
Finally, the center will also work with businesses to ensure training is tailored to employment needs, will continue to provide low and no-cost training through the Maine Quality Centers program and will invest $1.2 million in a Remote Work for ME project providing rural residents with free training so that can pursue remote work opportunities.
Training through the center will be focused on the unemployed and underemployed who lack the skills needed to compete, frontline workers who need additional training to remain relevant and advance and more than 150,000 Maine adults who have some post-secondary education but no degree or credential of value.
This story will be updated.