January 19, 2019
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Where to find Maine’s best jobs during the next decade

Stock photo | Pexels
Stock photo | Pexels
Health care, engineering, hospitality and construction are among the industry sectors with high-paying jobs and a strong demand for skilled candidates, according to a brief by the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and Educate Maine.

Computer analysts, construction workers, engineers, health care, manufacturing and hospitality workers will be in big demand and command high pay during the next 10 years, a new study projects.

The study by Educate Maine and the Maine State Chamber of Commerce aimed to identify jobs that are hard to fill but that job seekers could apply for if they earned a new credential or other competency skill.

“We hope this [study] helps Maine people see there are options and various paths and resources they may not be aware of to help them if they are interested in working in these areas of high pay and demand,” Ed Cervone, executive director of Educate Maine, said in a prepared statement.

Educate Maine is a Portland-based nonprofit focused on helping people get ready for college or a career.

The study includes hot job areas, career pathways, potential salaries and what is involved in each job.

For example, computer analysts and support personnel coordinate software or hardware installations, monitor the performance of computer systems and write computer programming code.

The study projects 900 annual openings in Maine for such information technology workers, with an average salary of $75,000.

The study recommends that those who might be interested in information technology get started by choosing what industry they want to work in and whether they want to focus on programming or data analysis. If a potential job applicant doesn’t know, it recommends taking a one-year certificate program to test whether the person likes the field.

And there are potential perks to help those who are retraining attain their goal faster. The University of Maine at Augusta has federal TechHire funding for 500 students to receive accelerated computer training. The program, which gives students a certificate, takes one year and consists of five courses and an internship.

Thousands of construction workers needed

The study projected about 5,000 annual openings in Maine during the next 10 years for construction industry workers making an average annual salary of $46,000.

“The earning potential is significant, and the worker shortage is driving waves up,” the study said. “Only 9 percent of construction workers are women, and for those women … the demand is very high.”

Carpenters are in high demand, with 625 annual job openings, as are electricians, with 356 annual openings.

The main path to a construction job is through a Career and Technical Education program, typically started in high school. Older workers can go to their local career center to be put on tracks for training.

Some companies will invest in individuals who don’t have the skills but are willing to work. Cianbro Corp. identifies people with an ability to learn and teaches them needed job skills. The study said Cianbro has retrained hundreds of employees all over the country, both onsite and through TV and mobile apps.

Engineers remain in high demand, with 500 annual openings expected in Maine during the next 10 years. The average salary is $84,000. Engineers typically need at least a bachelor’s degree, but some jobs require only a high school diploma.

Nurses critically needed

The study projects about 5,800 health care job openings annually with an average salary of $65,000. Nurses are in particular demand.

Northern Light Health said it could hire more than 200 nurses today. The largest number of available jobs is for registered nurses and medical assistants. Physical and respiratory therapists also are in high demand.

Another hot job sector is hospitality, where 14,000 jobs are expected to be open in the state each year for the next 10 years. The average salary is $27,000.

The jobs include cleaning food preparation areas and equipment, inspecting facilities, cooking foods, checking the quality of foods and assessing whether equipment for food preparation is functioning properly.

Manufacturing jobs remain hard to fill, with 5,000 openings expected annually. The average salary is $43,000.

Educate Maine and the Maine State Chamber of Commerce recommend policy changes, compiled from experts, to try to assure job prospects will receive proper training.

They recommended that every public school system in Maine should have a computer science course sequence. In construction, Career and Technical Education centers need to be better funded and coordinated with high schools, the study states.

They also said every high school in Maine should have a pre-engineering program, and starting in kindergarten, all children need to be introduced to all the letters in STEM, not just science and math but also technology and engineering.

Funding needs to be found to educate Maine’s next class of nursing instructors, as many are close to retirement age, the study said, and they need to be paid more.

The study also recommended funding for hospitality apprenticeship programs and that the state government support industry-led workforce development efforts in manufacturing.

 



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