© 2021 Maine Public
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Business and Economy

Experts Say Maine Employers Have ‘Very Serious Challenges’ Finding Workers

Labor experts told members of the University of Maine System’s Board of Trustees Monday that while Maine’s payroll jobs have finally rebounded to pre-recession levels, there are still large numbers of Mainers who have not rejoined the state labor force.

John Dorrer, chief workforce strategist for the Maine Community College System, said many lack the skills needed for today’s job market.

“Maine is running into some very serious challenges in terms of finding qualified workers — there’s not a week that goes by that we don’t hear from one company or one industry sector or another complaining about not being able to find qualified workers in relation to the demand they’ve got or not having any workers outside their hiring gate at all, and the situation is very constrained,” he said.

Dorrer said that between 2014 and 2024, employers are expected to hire more than 15,000 workers annually to replace those who are aging out of the workforce.

Matt Sigelman, CEO of Burning Glass Technologies, told trustees that tomorrow’s graduates will need to acquire a hybrid of skill sets along with their bachelor’s in order to land higher-paying positions.

“So there are sets of skills that are starting to broadly infuse the market, which students need to acquire pretty much no matter what they major in if they want to have a shot at a middle-class income and upward mobility in the 21st century,” he said.

Sigelman said a Wharton study using Burning Glass data found that not only will new college grads require additional experience to secure competitive positions, those without a post-secondary degree will face a double penalty when employers devalue the work experience they have because they also lack a degree.