Department of Labor Announces Dates of Competitive Skills Scholarship Program Application Period Bookmark and Share

June 2, 2014

For Immediate Release: June 2, 2014

Contact: Julie Rabinowitz, Maine Department of Labor, 621-5009

Program reforms for new enrollees will create more training opportunities

AUGUSTA—The Department of Labor has announced that the new rules for the Competitive Skills Scholarship Program have been adopted and the CareerCenters will take applications between June 23 and July 3, 2014. Applications will be available on June 19 on the CSSP webpage http://www.maine.gov/labor/careerctr/services-programs/training/cssp/index.shtml and at all CareerCenters.

The CSSP was established in 2008 to meet businesses’ demand for skilled workers and to provide funding for Maine residents to train for work in high-wage, high-growth and in-demand occupations. Funding for the program comes from the state Competitive Skills Scholarship Fund, through an offset of employer-paid unemployment taxes.

“CSSP has been in place since 2007, offering low-income and unemployed Mainers scholarships and assistance to help them earn industry-recognized credentials for an in-demand job,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “We need to maximize training for occupation-specific skills to better connect the long-term unemployed with good-paying jobs in our growing economy. The new rules will result in more people successfully earning a degree and getting a job.”

“We anticipate that this application period will yield enough qualified applicants to fill available openings in the program,” said Commissioner of Labor Jeanne Paquette. “In the event this is not the case, we will re-open the application period as needed.”

The CSSP program has undergone a year-long review. Although one-year and three-year analyses of after-program earnings show net increases in earnings and significant decreases in the number of trainees who later received unemployment benefits, these positive outcomes are tempered by the fact that fewer than 40 percent of trainees graduated from their programs with a certificate or degree.

“This is significant because the outcomes for trainees who completed their training and got that certificate or diploma were better in nearly every measurement,” said Commissioner Paquette. “The rules changes encourage participants to earn their degree more quickly and add more training options, like apprenticeship. The resulting savings will increase the slots available to new trainees so more people will be able to benefit from the program.”

Changes affect new participants. Current participants will be governed by the rules in place when they enrolled. The revisions include: require that participants live in Maine; allow apprenticeship programs as a form of training; allow participants to take a leave of absence from the program in case of emergency due to circumstances beyond participants’ control; tighten the timeframe in which participants can earn credentials to six years for a four-year degree, three years for a two-year degree and 18 months for a one-year certificate or diploma; require that child care be provided by a licensed or registered caregiver for reimbursement; require verification of stipend eligibility twice a year; and require that participants carry 12 credit hours or more to be eligible for a stipend.

The rule changes will also allow the department to improve program outcomes by instituting a more robust assessment of income-eligible applicants to assure they are appropriate for their chosen course of study and occupation.

“By lowering the training and support-services costs, the program will use the savings to increase the number of individuals trained and provide an improved return on investment for the state and for the employers who pay the taxes that support this program,” said Commissioner Paquette.

People interested in applying for a CSSP scholarship should contact their local CareerCenter. Slots are awarded based on income-eligibility and other program criteria, and applications will be accepted between June 23 and July 3, 2014. More information is available at http://www.maine.gov/labor/careerctr/services-programs/training/cssp/index.shtml . The new rules are available on the Secretary of State’s website at http://www.maine.gov/sos/cec/rules/12/chaps12.htm .

Maine CareerCenters are an equal opportunity provider. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.

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