Educating Maine's Workforce Part 2

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BANGOR and PITTSFIELD, Maine (WABI) Many students in high school are wondering what's next for them.

Should they go to college? What will they study? What's out there for jobs? Will there be a job for them when they graduate?

It comes down to who provides the skills for the skilled workforce needed in our state.

Is it in the classroom or in practical, real life experience?

In some cases, it is both, and it's provided in the same program.

"Most of the employers are looking for what they call the soft skills; the attitude, the attendance, show up on time, put in a full day's work, get that work ethic down," said David Stevens the United Technologies Center in Bangor Building Construction & Management Instructor. "So that's what we try to teach is the basics of and within that they pick up some skills."

According to the President of Beal College, Sheryl Dewalt, attracting people to attend school in Maine or to work in Maine can be difficult, so the best bet is to teach the people who are already here. "It's really important to provide education and access to educate Mainers within Maine to stay to the jobs in Maine." "And then the connection we have with the employers that they can see a gateway exactly that the end of the degree is not just the end of my education now, I'm going to be employed in the field."

Once the students have finished their degrees and head into the work force, The President of EMCC, Lisa Larson, says it doesn't mean the learning stops. "They'll take that training from there, whether they come back to us through customized training or whether they do that in house, but we always want to be a partner to them to say what's next? So we're very responsive."

At Cianbro, they developed their own training program in 2007, the Cianbro Institute, to make sure their employees are up to speed.

Dan Coffey the Manager of Cianbro Institute said "It gives us some space to conduct some hands on development."

"This just happens to be one fixed space facility here in Pittsfield, Maine," said Michael Bennett the VP of Cianbro Companies. "But we have simulated work environments, we have other facilities across the country so that we can adapt to that local need where we are performing work."

There are more than 40 instructors teaching the employees and they're using a national curriculum so they meet industry standards. But according to Bennett, they also make sure they're doing things the same on every Cianbro project regardless of the location around the globe. "There is a set of standards that we train to or educate to, however we do put Cianbro's twist to it specifically for what our needs are for our clients."

The employee doesn't need a college degree to be hired. They can progress up the ladder through the Cianbro Institute and reach the same spot and be paid while they're getting trained. Their philosophy is instead of complaining about the skilled workforce shortage, they're doing something to fix it. The Chairman and CEO of Cianbro Companies Peter Vigue believes they're investing in the company's and the employee's futures. "It does take a level of commitment, there's no question about it, and we're prepared to invest as long as individuals are prepared to invest of their time and energy into learning a skill and to adapting themselves with a certain degree of flexibility that they can be, and understanding that they can be successful."

For the instructors, like Jesse Crosby at Beal College, he sees students travel through the programs, find a job, and experience success in the workplace. He knows there are jobs out there, and there are rewards for those willing to stick with it and be willing to work. "We have students contact us all the time and they are buying houses, buying new vehicles, having retirement plans. A lot of my kids I follow on Facebook, it's nice to see them buying new homes and setting their families up when I know they were in the economy apartments here in Bangor barely making ends meet, and they worked through it and now they're making more money than I am here."