Jobs, education plan to invest $15M around the state

(The Center Square) – Expanding career and technical education is the focus of a new Maine investment.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills said Monday that $15 million will be placed into the Maine Jobs & Recovery Grant program. The funding would create and expand educational efforts to give students the needed tools in the form of real-world skills and experiences needed to enter and succeed in the workforce.

“I have always been a strong believer in the power of CTEs because they equip students with the skills and hands-on experience needed to take good-paying jobs and have rewarding, lifelong careers in the trades,” Mills said in a statement. “We all know that Maine desperately needs more electricians, plumbers, welders, and other skilled workers, and investments like this one through my Jobs Plan will help deliver them.”

According to a release, the funding will help educational institutions construct new facilities or add to existing structures to widen the reach of hands-on, real-world programs for plumbing, electrical, building construction, culinary, and hospitality students.

Enrollment in programs, according to a release, has grown nearly 11% under Mills’ watch, and features a nearly 300% increase in exploratory program enrollments. The programs will permit freshmen and sophomore students to sample programs.

“At Maine’s CTEs, students use their hands and their minds to immerse themselves in programs ranging from plumbing and building construction to culinary arts and healthcare,” Education Commissioner Pender Makin said in a release. “CTE students learn real-world skills, gain industry accreditation, take college courses, and build connections with local employers. These grants will allow several of our CTEs to expand to serve growing student interest in the engaging, hands-on programs that Maine’s CTEs offer.”

Oxford Hills Technical School in Norway is poised to receive more than $2 million for a new building that would expand its plumbing, electrician, and building construction programs.

Biddeford Regional Center of Technology, according to the release, will get more than $7 million to construct a two-story facility that would expand the existing plumbing and emergency medical technician programs.

The plan, which was approved by the Legislature, according to the release, will invest nearly $1 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funds.