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Maine has nearly doubled the number of registered apprentices over the last year

Electrical technology students Beau Clark and Caleb Cosand dismantle panels at the Capital Area Technical Center in Augusta.
Carol Bousquet
/
Maine Public
Electrical technology students Beau Clark and Caleb Cosand dismantle panels at the Capital Area Technical Center in Augusta.

The number of people enrolled in Maine apprenticeship programs has nearly doubled within the last year.

State officials see the rise in registered apprentices as a promising sign that will help Maine meet its workforce goals.

About 464 people were enrolled in a registered Maine apprenticeship last fiscal year, according to the state's Department of Labor. Apprenticeship programs added another 858 new enrollees this fiscal year, in addition to about 470 others who joined pre-apprenticeship programs for the first time.

"Employers can't find the employees they want, and so they're looking for solutions," said Joan Dolan, director of apprenticeship and strategic partnerships for Maine DOL. "One of the solutions that they've landed upon is the registered apprenticeship, and beyond that it's creating pre-apprenticeships that create a pipeline and bridge the gap between education and work."

Dolan said apprenticeship programs were also able to expand with new federal and state funding. And she believes the idea of pairing classroom education with fulltime, on-the-job training is appealing to a variety of populations, including people with disabilities, recent immigrants who come to Maine with existing skills and high-schoolers frustrated with the high cost of college.

"Rather than thinking they have to leave Maine to find a good job, apprenticeship jobs are good jobs and good careers," Dolan said. "We can, hopefully," retain more of our young people through providing them and showing them, these are the opportunities that exist."

Maine has set a goal of adding 75,000 new workers to the state's labor force by 2029.