January 25, 2022 –
Governor Janet Mills announced today that the Maine Department of Labor is making available up to $12 million in grant funding for Maine businesses to significantly expand apprenticeships. These apprenticeships are part of a larger effort by the Mills Administration to address the longstanding workforce shortage issue in Maine.
Backed by $11 million in Federal funding from the Governor’s Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan and additional funding from U.S. Department of Labor’s State Apprenticeship Expansion, Equity, and Innovation (SAEEI) Grant, these new grants can be used by businesses, labor unions, community-based organizations or industry associations to partner with Maine Department of Labor’s Registered Apprenticeship Program to develop new apprenticeship programs and pre-apprenticeship programs or expand existing apprenticeship programs.
Registered apprenticeship is a proven approach that connects workers to high-quality career pathways and meets employers’ talent needs by preparing and developing their current and future workforce. Apprenticeship programs help employers by upskilling and retaining workers and leads to wage growth for workers—both imperatives for Maine’s economic recovery.
The State’s Registered Apprenticeship Program currently has 1,177 apprentices and 122 registered sponsors, representing 321 participating businesses in Maine. Apprentices in Maine who completed their program in the last two years, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, increased their wages, on average, by nearly 40 percent, and 94 percent of apprentices continue their employment with their apprenticeship sponsoring business.
“Apprenticeships are a win for our workers, our employers, and our economy, providing on-the-job training that results in a stable workforce, good-paying jobs, and a stronger, more diverse economy,” said Governor Janet Mills. “I encourage employers looking for workers across Maine to use these funds to expand their apprenticeship programs to get more people – especially younger folks – into new, exciting fields that can provide a good paycheck.”
“The Registered Apprenticeship Program is a great opportunity for businesses to recruit and train their workforce, while their apprentices earn a paycheck and learn new skills,” said Laura Fortman, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Labor. “With these grants, we aim to develop an integrated, sustainable, and effective statewide program while expanding the number of high-quality pre and registered apprenticeships, and increasing access for under-represented workers such as women, people of color, people with disabilities, and justice-involved individuals.”
The Maine Department of Labor is focused on developing and expanding apprenticeship opportunities in high-wage, in-demand industries, and industries most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Current apprentices primarily represent the construction, manufacturing, and healthcare industries.
Grant funding will be awarded with a focus on promoting expansion within these three COVID-affected sectors as well as other sectors, including but not limited to, clean energy, infrastructure (construction, trades, broadband, logistics), hospitality, education, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and retail.
Interested businesses, unions, education and training providers, community-based organizations, workforce development partners, and/or current or potential apprenticeship intermediaries such as business associations or chambers of commerce can apply for awards.
Awards are expected to range from $250,000 to $3 million. The number and size of awards will depend on the number of proposals received, industry sector(s) served, anticipated number of apprentices served, and available funds.
Interested applicants can find more information, including eligibility requirements, and apply at: www.maine.gov/dafs/bbm/procurementservices/vendors/grants. Proposal submissions must be received no later than 11:59 p.m. on February 23, 2022.
These new apprenticeship grants build on the Mills Administration’s commitment to address systemic challenges that have constrained Maine’s ability to grow and thrive, with priority focus on investments to grow and develop Maine’s workforce.
The Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan is the Governor’s plan, approved by the Legislature, to invest nearly $1 billion in Federal American Rescue Plan funds to achieve three goals: immediate economic recovery from the pandemic; long-term economic growth for Maine; and infrastructure revitalization.
It draws heavily on recommendations from the Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee and the State’s 10-Year Economic Development Strategy, transforming them into real action to improve the lives of Maine people and strengthen the economy.
The Jobs Plan includes some $300 million in workforce investments, including $105 million for programs at Maine schools, community colleges, and universities; $50 million for affordable and workforce housing; $20 million to expand Pre-K and childcare infrastructure, and more.
Funding for the Jobs Plan is through the Federal American Rescue Plan Act, which allocated $4.5 billion in stimulus funds to Maine in 2021. Coordination of the Jobs Plan is led by the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services and the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future.