Federal funds through the Governor’s Jobs Plan will be made available to help Maine schools recruit, train, and retain educators through apprenticeship programs
Gorham, MAINE – The Mills Administration announced today a new initiative to help Maine schools recruit, train, and retain educators through pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs.
The initiative, funded in part by Governor Mills’ Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, is part of a larger overall effort by the Mills Administration to connect employers with a skilled workforce and workers with career opportunities. The initiative was unveiled during a visit to the Gorham School District by Commissioner of Labor Laura Fortman and Deputy Commissioner of Education Dan Chuhta.
Under the initiative, schools and other education and community-related organizations can apply for competitive funding, with awards of up to $250,000 to begin local educator pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs to help address Maine’s educator workforce shortage.
“As the daughter of a longtime public school teacher, I deeply and personally understand the lifelong impact that teachers have on their students, schools, and communities,” said Governor Janet Mills. “A teacher can make all the difference in the life of a student, and we should do what we can to ensure that those who want to advance in the teaching profession have the opportunity to do so. These apprenticeship programs are important to help educators take the next step in their careers. Using funding from my Jobs Plan, we will help Maine schools find the teachers they need and support educators on the path to fulfilling careers as they make a difference in the lives of our children.”
The initiative expands a program launched last year at Washington County Community College and the Gorham School District. The Gorham program – supported by the Maine Department of Labor and the Harold Alfond Center for the Advancement of Maine’s Workforce – partners with Southern Maine Community College and the University of Southern Maine to provide classroom training to current education technicians from multiple schools in Cumberland and York counties. These apprentices work in the classrooms during the school day while they advance their career to become certified Education Technicians II, creating a pathway to continue their education and become certified teachers.
The program was created after the Maine Department of Education last year released its Teach Maine plan, in partnership with educators and stakeholders, to bolster the teacher workforce through innovative recruitment and retention strategies, including programs like apprenticeships. With encouragement from the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor, Maine joined several other states in launching apprenticeships in educator occupations with new programs at Washington County Community College and the Gorham School District.
“The Maine Department of Labor works with employers to fulfill their workforce needs and works to connect Maine’s people to high quality jobs. One way that we do this is through mutually beneficial registered apprenticeships,” said Laura Fortman, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Labor. “Registered Apprenticeship is an excellent training model for schools to use, as it supports those already working in Maine’s schools to advance down the path of becoming a certified teacher, while continuing to earn an income.”
“The Maine Department of Education is committed to ensuring that everyone who wants to be a teacher in Maine has a pathway into the profession and is supported in the classroom. Teacher apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships offer a meaningful pathway to recruit, prepare, and support aspiring educators and these programs are aligned to the strategies embedded in our Teach Maine plan to build a robust teacher workforce in our state. We are excited to partner with the Department of Labor to invest in pilot programs that will lead to an effective teacher apprenticeship model for Maine,” said Pender Makin, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Education.
“The Maine Education Association is committed to quality public education for our students and during a time when we have many open positions across the state we need to focus on innovative solutions to attract and retain the best into the profession. While increasing educator pay is crucial, teacher apprenticeship grants can also help show Maine is ready to invest in both the aspirations of our aspiring educators and the growth of our state. Together, we can cultivate a robust teacher workforce and pave the way for generations of students to thrive,” said Grace Leavitt, President of the Maine Education Association.
“As Maine faces a critical shortage of educators, these programs will provide aspiring educators with valuable hands-on experience in real classroom settings. This practical exposure allows aspiring educators to apply theoretical knowledge and develop practical teaching skills under the guidance of experienced mentors. These programs will play a crucial role in preparing new teachers for the challenges and demands of the classroom, bridge the gap between theory and practice, foster skill development, and contribute to the overall improvement of education systems, said Eileen King, Executive Director of the Maine School Superintendents Association.
“The Educator Apprentice Program has been fundamental in many ways,” said Kathy Dol, a participant in Gorham’s educator apprenticeship program. “The structure of this program, relative to the small class size and expectations, allows for achievable success that has been nothing short of a welcome surprise. You can be sure this program will fit your extended educational goals. Education is a continuous area that allows educators to add to our toolbox that is never filled. That what I gain out of this apprentice program, and I thoroughly enjoy that.”
The expansion of teacher apprenticeship programs is supported by $600,000 in Federal funding, including $100,000 through the Governor’s Jobs Plan and $500,000 through U.S. Department of Labor’s State Apprenticeship Expansion, Equity, and Innovation (SAEEI) Grant. Using these grants, schools can partner with Maine Department of Labor’s Registered Apprenticeship Program to pilot new educator apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs.
The number and size of grant awards will depend on the number of proposals received, anticipated number of apprentices served, and available funds. Interested applicants can find more information here. Proposals are due September 25, 2023.
This grant funding opportunity builds on the investment of $12.3 million awarded to expand apprenticeship through the Governor’s Jobs Plan and other Federal funds. The State’s Registered Apprenticeship Program currently has 1,292 active apprentices and 142 registered sponsors, representing 261 participating businesses in Maine.
Apprentices in Maine who completed their program in the last two years increased their wages, on average, by nearly 40 percent. Nationally, 94 percent of apprentices continue their employment with their apprenticeship sponsoring business once their training is complete.
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.
Since the Jobs Plan took effect in October 2021, the Mills Administration has delivered direct economic relief to nearly 1,000 Maine small businesses, supported more than 100 infrastructure projects around the state to create jobs and revitalize communities, and invested in workforce programs estimated to offer apprenticeship, career and education advancement, and job training opportunities to 22,000 Maine people.