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In the governors Cabinet Room, at the signing of LD 1833, are (left to right): Rep. Andre Cushing; Ben Connors, a student at EMCC; Governor LePage; electrical engineer Rick Reardon, an EMCC instructor; and James Cote, president and CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors of Maine. (Photo by Caitlin Chamberlain)
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For Immediate Release

Date: 04/19/12

Governor signs bill promoting electrical education

AUGUSTA - Governor LePage today signed a bill designed to attract more young Mainers into careers as electricians by allowing licensed electricians to supervise two apprentices or helpers at a time, instead of one, as permitted under current law. The apprentices must have completed or be enrolled in an accredited training program.

The new law also removes a $96 fee required for students to get a helper's license when enrolled in a high school or college electrical program. The fee was seen as a deterrent for students who wanted to explore the field before making a commitment.

The bill, LD 1833, "An Act To Encourage Enrollment in Electrical Education Programs," was sponsored by Rep. Andre Cushing (R-Hampden) and supported by educators and employers across the state.

"I introduced this bill because, as Governor LePage has emphasized, we need to begin offering Maine's young people more opportunities through our education system," said Rep. Cushing. "For too long, there has been a disconnect between the education our young people receive and the skills our employers need.

"Not all kids see college as their best choice, and our high schools should offer practical training opportunities to those who can excel in trades," Rep. Cushing added. "Vocational education gives many who are not on a straight academic course more favorable options. Those who might get discouraged and otherwise drop out now have a better reason to stay in school, and it provides them not just with jobs, but with careers, when they graduate."

James Cote, president and CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors, testified for the bill during a public hearing and attended today's bill signing ceremony held in the governor's Cabinet Room.

"This is an outstanding new law because it makes it easier for young people to get started in the electrical field," Cote said. "The bottom line is that Maine builders want to hire more people, but they need people with the skills to do the jobs that are available. This new law will help us fill those positions and provide good careers to Maine's young people."

Also on hand was electrical engineer Rick Reardon, an instructor at Eastern Maine Community College (EMCC) in Bangor. He was accompanied by Ben Connors, of Winterport, an EMCC student who will soon graduate with an associate's degree in the electrician training program.

At EMCC, Reardon said, students can take classes at night and work as electricians' helpers during the day. "There is a huge demand for helpers," he said. "As soon as you enroll in the program, you can apply for a helper's license."

Department of Labor statistics indicate that the bill meets a real need in Maine's economy. Almost 40 percent of master and journeyman electricians in Maine are age 55 and older, and many employers are concerned that they will soon face a shortage of qualified electricians.

The new law will take effect 90 days after the 125th Legislature adjourns, which is expected to occur by May 18.

Contact:
Jay Finegan
Maine House Republicans
Tel: (207) 287-1445