Preparing Students for Successful, Good Paying Careers in Maine

Hello, this is Governor Janet Mills, and thank you for listening.

Hey, earlier this week, I was really excited to be back in Farmington, my hometown, to cut the ribbon on the new Bjorn Center for Career and Technical Education.

This is one of only two centers in Maine that put CTEs in the middle school environment, and I'm so excited about it. This particular center is funded by a generous $2.8 million donation from our good friend Dick Bjorn and $250,000 in state funds and $130,000 in federal funds designated by the Franklin County Commissioners.

This center will expand job training opportunities for at least 300 middle school students each year in Franklin County. Well, this is just the latest way that the Bjorn family's philanthropy has improved the lives of people in Farmington and our area. And on behalf of all the students who are going to be learning invaluable skills in wood and metal manufacturing, in robotics and culinary arts at the Bjorn Center, I want to thank the Bjorn family and Dick Bjorn in particular. He's a self-made man who started working for his dad as a plumber in high school, and so he knows the value of work and early learning and exposure to the trades.

Like Dick Bjorn, I've always been a strong believer in the power of career and technical education centers to prepare Maine students for good paying jobs right here in our state. But despite the great role that CTE programs play in the lives of young people and in building a skilled workforce to strengthen our economy, for decades, our state government did not invest in modernizing or expanding CTEs. And we see the effects of that today – that neglect – as Maine faces a severe shortage of electricians, plumbers, welders, other skilled workers, even like teachers and law enforcement and firefighters and health care professionals.

And that's all why three years ago, my administration invested $20 million in federal funds for my Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan into Maine's CTEs to enhance and expand those programs and upgrade equipment and facilities – the first time in decades – so more young people can benefit from these programs and be exposed to trades of all sorts.

Thanks to that investment, now more than 10,000 students, the highest number ever, have enrolled in 85 different programs at the CTEs, ranging from plumbing and welding, early childhood education, and health care.

Along with our investments elsewhere in pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs, free community college, credentialing and other adult ed programs, the expansion of CTEs in Maine and our investment in their equipment is strengthening our workforce and supporting our growing economy.

The Bjorn Center for Career and Technical Education is a welcome addition to all those programs.

As a result of this new center, hundreds of students will learn the skills they need to go on to successful, good paying careers right here in Maine. Careers that our state desperately needs.

Have you tried to call a plumber lately, or an electrician? I mean, we need skilled workers and that's what we're doing by supporting the CTEs across Maine.

CTE programs work. Let's continue to invest in them, and in our students, and strengthen our workforce and our economy.

This is Governor Janet Mills, and thank you for listening.