What is Workforce Development?

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is Workforce Development?
  2. Who Does Workforce Development?
  3. How can more people contribute to workforce investment decisions to best leverage other regional priorities in creating jobs and developing our economy?
  4. What Does This Mean for Maine’s Job Creators?
  5. Why Invest in Workforce Development?

What is Workforce Development?

Maine has set a goal of developing a globally competitive workforce.  To accomplish this, the state must identify the best strategies and resources to prepare local talent for the real demands of local employers and create a streamlined delivery system for their implementation. This process of identifying, strategizing and implementing  the best means of building a network of appropriately trained and educated workers is workforce development.

Workforce development improves the state’s business climate by designing and implementing strategies that help Mainers enter the workforce as well as advance by increasing their skills. The successful and continuous development of our workforce benefits our businesses and our entire state.  The more highly skilled our workforce, the more we attract new businesses and diversify our economy. Maine can offer businesses world-class talent.

Who Does Workforce Development?

Although much of the funding for workforce development comes from the federal government, the state, in cooperation with other key community partners, determines how to invest these funds.  This is a collaborative process whereby the workforce needs of businesses help determine where opportunities exist to match workers with good jobs through education and other training opportunities.

This process must be employer driven. Without the input from businesses, the risk of misallocating our limited training resources is high.  Program development must include the most recent data on how the new knowledge, skills or abilities might be applied and where the employment opportunities are geographically located.  Industries are a key part of this public-private partnership.

Without strong employer input, it is difficult to gauge priorities. Industry partnerships identify skill gaps and human resource needs in targeted industries and high-demand occupations. Partnerships work to solve workforce challenges within their industries, helping improve the local, regional and statewide economies.

How can more people contribute to workforce investment decisions to best leverage other regional priorities in creating jobs and developing our economy?

Workforce development funds must become part of a larger strategy of economic development and job creation.  Given that the state has placed a priority on getting Maine citizens back to work, the State Workforce Investment Board is currently engaged in a process of restructuring Maine’s workforce development system to improve our economy, create jobs, and increase the skills of our workforce.

For the past fourteen years, the complexity of the funding streams has allowed for an environment of bureaucratic overhead at the expense of funding training. Under the current configuration, less than 20 percent of the approximately $9 million in federal funds are available to pay specifically for training and certification programs for jobseekers.

The proposed structural changes will reduce administrative overhead, increasing efficiency by better targeting training dollars to the types of jobs that industry needs. The changes will also provide for more local input. 

To facilitate local input, the State Workforce Investment Board will work with with the sixty-eight Chambers state wide to convene and facilitate the business community at the local level. By utilizing natural business intermediaries like the Chambers of Commerce to convene and facilitate local meetings, the workforce development system will foster a stronger connection to the private sector and local economic development activity.

The State Workforce Investment Board anticipates that restructuring will reduce the cost of administration and the savings will be used to serve more of Maine’s citizens, offsetting other existing and future cuts in federal funding and leveraging other grant and targeted investment funds.

What Does This Mean for Maine’s Job Creators?

The realigned workforce development system will have an employer, demand-driven focus. Maine will train our workforce for jobs with a future—jobs in occupations in demand. This approach will provide Maine’s employers with a high quality and well-trained workforce and our economy. This public sector-private sector partnership of private sector businesses, allied state agencies and higher education.

Employers require access to the tools needed to succeed in today’s rapidly changing and increasingly competitive environment.  As the demand for a skilled workforce accelerates, the model for supporting workforce development must respond. Maine’s previous model focused on service recipients as the primary customer, often training them for jobs that were not in demand in their location. The new demand-driven approach requires that we focus on the employer as the primary customer.

Why Invest in Workforce Development?

Maine needs to maintain the value and quality of Maine’s workforce.  Industries look at the qualities a state’s workforce possesses when deciding where to expand.  Maine’s people are hard and loyal workers and are not afraid of challenges. 
A quality workforce generates an important relationship between well-trained, dedicated workers and employers who depend upon them to maintain and grow their businesses.  The better trained and flexible the workforce, the more companies that come to take advantage of that workforce.  More companies means more choices for workers, more jobs, more promotional opportunities, and more competition for workers, which can lead to higher wages.  Maine’s people, businesses and economy improve as our workforce quality improves.