A new $21 million program, Healthcare Training for ME, expands availability of free and low-cost career training for health care workers and employers
Governor Janet Mills today announced the launch of Healthcare Training for ME, an initiative of her Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan to strengthen Maine’s healthcare workforce by expanding availability of free and low-cost career training to help healthcare workers advance their careers, support workforce training needs of healthcare employers, and attract new workers to fast-growing fields.
Through the new Healthcare Training for ME website, individuals and employers can connect with training from employers and education partners, such as adult education programs, community colleges, and the university system. Individuals and employers may then apply to receive tuition assistance to enroll in training programs, or offer training to their employees, at little or no cost.
The initiative is a partnership of the Maine Department of Labor, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Maine Department of Education, Maine Community College System, and the University of Maine System. It is supported by $21 million from the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, which includes $8.5 million allocated to DOL and $12.5 million allocated to the Maine Community College System for workforce training.
“The health care sector is one of Maine’s largest employers, putting thousands of Maine people to work in good-paying jobs protecting the health of Maine people. But for a long time now, health care facilities across the state have had to grapple with a shortage of workers and the pandemic has only made the problem worse,” said Governor Mills. “These new training programs will make it easier and more affordable for people, especially young people, to pursue careers in health care and to move up the career ladder into higher-paying jobs, which supports our health care employers and strengthens our health care workforce in the long-run.”
“The Maine Department of Labor is committed to connecting the people of our state to high-wage, in-demand jobs. This new partnership and centralized website will be a crucial resource for healthcare employers and employees looking to advance their and their workforce’s skills,” said Laura Fortman, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Labor. “Healthcare training opportunities can now be found in one easy to navigate place, and healthcare workers can potentially access career-advancing training with little to no cost to them or their employer.”
“The health of Maine people and the health of our economy depend on having a strong, high-quality health care system,” said Jeanne Lambrew, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. “The cornerstone of our health care system is the skilled professionals whose knowledge, training, and compassion keep Maine people healthy. The Healthcare Training for ME program will attract more people to these valuable professions and help them advance in their careers, a central goal of Governor Mills’ strategy to strengthen Maine’s health care workforce now and into the future.”
“We are proud to partner in this effort to provide additional pathways for those who want to pursue careers as healthcare professionals. Maine’s adult education programs have years of experience in offering industry-recognized, credential bearing trainings and opportunities to jumpstart careers in the healthcare workforce,” said Pender Makin, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Education. “Healthcare Training for ME helps streamline access to these trainings and opportunities while expanding collaboration with employers and higher education programs to provide more advanced training and employment opportunities.” By working directly with health care employers across fields such as long-term care, emergency services, hospitals, behavioral health, and dental, Healthcare Training for ME aims to improve workforce training and retention rates. For current health care workers, the program offers free or low-cost pathways to new skills and advanced credentials, particularly through shorter-term training options. Prospective health care workers may access information, training, and other support to start their careers.
Starting today, health care employers with fewer than 100 employees across their system who accept MaineCare, may apply for training funds to address staff recruitment and retention issues stemming from the pandemic. All employers and individuals may start to apply for training funds on May 2, 2022.
Leaders from Maine’s health care industry, colleges, and universities welcomed the launch of Healthcare Training for ME as a vital and innovative program to help strengthen Maine’s critical health care workforce following the disruption of the pandemic. “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into focus the value of Maine’s hospital workforce and the rewards of professions in health care,” said Steven Michaud, President of the Maine Hospital Association. “Throughout Maine, hospital staff have saved lives and provided high-quality care to their local communities. The HealthCare Training for ME program will help to attract more people to these professions and retain current workers, as part of the Mills Administration’s broader strategy to invest in and strengthen Maine’s health care workforce.”
“The two most important indicators of pandemic recovery in Maine nursing homes and assisted living communities are robust staffing and occupancy,” said Angela Westhoff, President and CEO of the Maine Health Care Association. “COVID-19 continues to put strain on these connected factors and our members remain concerned about staff burnout, turnover, and a mass departure from caregiving altogether. MHCA is pleased to partner with the Administration on tangible recruitment and retention solutions, like Healthcare Training for ME, that will encourage, incentivize, and cultivate the next generation of Maine's health care professionals.”
“As the largest producer of the state's professional healthcare workforce, the University of Maine System looks forward to this partnership," said Dannel Malloy, Chancellor of the University of Maine System. "The new Healthcare Training for ME initiative will support more Mainers pursuing good-paying jobs caring for their community through high-quality healthcare education and training that improve their own social mobility and health outcomes in rural Maine."
“The short-term health care programs at Maine’s community colleges have been designed in partnership with medical partners across the state, ensuring that learners get exactly the skills needed for today’s workplace. Not only do we have excellent nursing and other 2-year programs, but we’re using the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan funds to greatly expand our short-term health care training courses,” said Dan Belyea, Chief Workforce Development Officer at the Maine Community College System. “The Healthcare Training for ME program illustrates the response needed to deliver a skilled workforce to high-demand health care positions, and the need to act quickly and collaboratively. Our short-term training embraces real-time opportunities and the accelerated track in which learners can achieve a credential of value and enter into the workforce in a matter of months.”
“These last few years have been truly unprecedented in the growth and complexity of the need within the behavioral health realm. Clinicians and staff have had to work long hours and carry heavy loads all across Maine,” said Malory Shaughnessy, Executive Director of the Alliance for Addiction and Mental Health Services.“Alliance members are encouraged by the Mills Administration developing and advancing the new workforce initiatives in the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan. Looking forward, we have hope that these new Healthcare Training for ME resources for providers and staff will help with current needs as well as address our longstanding workforce shortages. We are excited to collaborate with the administration on this and their broader health care workforce efforts."
Healthcare Training for ME is part of a series of initiatives from Governor Mills’ Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan to invest in the state’s health care workforce. Upcoming programs include scholarships and student loan relief for individuals in health care professions; new recruitment efforts to encourage young people to enter careers in health care; and the creation of health care career navigators to help people interested in health care fields determine the right career path for them.
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 improve the lives of Maine people and families, help businesses, create good-paying jobs, and build an economy poised for future prosperity.
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.
For more about Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, visit maine.gov/jobsplan.