The Harold Alfond Foundation in Portland, Maine, has awarded a $3.6 million grant to the Foundation for Maine's Community Colleges in support of workforce training initiatives, the Portland Press Herald reports.
The grant will fund efforts to expand and enhance short-term training programs in four high-demand industries facing worker shortages — health care, manufacturing and trades, information technology, and construction. The Maine Community College System has launched new programs that make use of "badges," which students earn as they acquire specific skills through short-term training rather than the traditional one- or two-year program.
MCCS president Derek Langhauser told the Press Herald that compressing the traditional semester schedule will enable the programs to meet seasonal workforce demands. The system also is developing training programs tailored to specific employers, ranging from businesses with as few as five workers to a special welding program developed for Bath Iron Works, which has nearly six thousand employees.
"Our community colleges are key to addressing Maine's workforce challenges," said Alfond Foundation board chair Greg Powell. "They are leading the way, opening the door to opportunity for more Maine people through innovative education and training that meet both the immediate and long-term needs of students and the state."