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Business and Economy

Maine Companies Short Of Highly-Skilled Workers Look At How Immigrants Can Help Fill The Gap

Companies dealing with Maine's well-documented workforce shortage are in Portland Thursday for a forum on how the state's growing immigrant communities can help.The Portland Office of Economic Opportunity, Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce and Catholic Charities Maine are holding the event at the University of Southern Maine.

Quincy Hentzel is CEO of the Portland Chamber. She says the organizations wanted to get employers into a room together.

"We wanted them in the room so we can have this conversation with them and really get a sense from them of what are the barriers, what are the barriers and challenges of hiring for them from this talent pool?"

She says the event is geared specifically toward the people who make hiring decisions at Maine companies.

"It is, hopefully, going to be a resource to help educate employers as to what some of the challenges and barriers are for foreign-trained professionals in terms of them finding meaningful employment," Hentzel says, "and how can we help employers find ways to hire from this talent pool, and ultimately to retain and promote from this talent pool."

Hentzel says many new immigrants in Maine are highly-trained professionals, particularly in engineering and I.T. But in some cases credentialing issues prevent them from working in their trade in the U.S.

The event this morning features a video address from U.S. Senator George Mitchell, and a keynote presentation from the president of the Maine Medical Center.