LePage works to improve job-skills training for Mainers

Posted April 06, 2012, at 3:44 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — In an effort to boost the new State Workforce Investment Board, Gov. Paul LePage met Friday with its members to talk about creating better opportunities for job-skill training.

“Two of my greatest priorities as governor relate directly to workforce,” he said in a statement. “We need to ensure students have the skills they need to be productive workers when they graduate, and we must get targeted training to people in the workforce today so that they can be competitive and successful in the job market.”

The State Workforce Investment Board includes business leaders, state and local officials as well as representatives from education, organized labor and service providers. The group is responsible for creating and implementing policies that train Mainers who are looking for meaningful work.

LePage often has said the many employers he has talked to since taking office say they have positions to fill but can’t find qualified applicants.

He wants to change that.

“We must make this system more effective in training people with skills employers need,” the governor told board members on Friday. “There is something wrong when employers with good jobs can’t find workers. It is holding our economy back.”

Earlier this year, LePage proposed changes to the work force system to allow a greater share of federal work force funds to go directly to job-skill training.

He also wants to identify skill gaps in the work force better, prioritize training initiatives and develop defined career ladders by which workers can build upon prior skills and new learning to advance in their jobs.

The governor’s plan designates eight work force areas — instead of four — that are aligned more closely with Maine’s regional chamber of commerce areas. The proposal further calls for additional performance-based standards to evaluate performance of work force programs and ensure that they are effective.

Frederick L. Webber, chairman of the State Workforce Investment Board, applauded the governor’s work on the issue.

“Gov. LePage has a clear vision for how this system must be positioned to ensure opportunity for all workers and businesses in our economy moving forward,” he said. “We are committed to carrying out his plan.”

Follow BDN reporter Eric Russell on Twitter @BDNPolitics

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