The number of skilled workers within Maine’s workforce is decreasing every year. Older people are retiring and leaving the workforce, and they aren’t being replaced by younger people with skills. Maine’s educational system needs to ensure we will have enough quality, well-trained workers ready for the jobs we want to grow here in the future.
How the Right Skills Can Bolster Maine’s Economy?
Education is too siloed today. Where once our schools offered practical, technical courses (“shop”) alongside purely academic courses, we began focusing exclusively on the “college readiness” path in which we were training students for college, but nothing else. For students who don’t pursue college, they received no job skills training or career preparation.
More recently career technical education has made a resurgence, a positive effort to ensure our educational system truly serves everyone and gives them the tools to succeed, whether in college or career.
But specific technical or vocational training is also failing short. Today, Maine needs to prepare younger people with generalized skill sets, rather than training people for a specialized job. We should be providing them with skills they can utilize across a wide range of production and manufacturing industries, or perhaps they could work across a range of service-related industries.
Businesses across many industries are looking for workers with similar skills. We must figure out a way to work with industry to understand what curricula are most valuable to industry. This appears to be the model that we’ve been seeing across the country that works well.
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