Maine launches new workforce development program to connect underserved Mainers to jobs

Fri, 01/14/2022 - 9:00am

AUGUSTA — The Mills Administration announced Thursday a workforce development pilot program to connect Maine people to good-paying jobs and meet the hiring needs of Maine employers.

The two-year “peer workforce navigator” pilot program, which was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Mills earlier this year, is backed by $1 million in American Rescue Plan funding from the Governor’s Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan.

The pilot program from the Maine Department of Labor will engage with organizations that work closely with underserved populations who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic to connect them to employment, skills development, and resources for needs such as child care and transportation.

Underserved populations may include immigrants, individuals with limited English proficiency, inexperienced and untrained individuals, low-income and homeless individuals, individuals who have been out of the workforce for an extended period, or individuals with low literacy and individuals with disabilities.

The program builds on proven practices to connect workers to employment and training opportunities, an imperative for Maine’s economic recovery, and it advances the Maine Department of Labor’s mission of connecting employers with jobseekers, including those who have sometimes been left on the sidelines.

“There are talented people across Maine and there are good-paying employers ready to hire them. Working closely with the Maine Department of Labor, the organizations participating in this new pilot program will become an important pillar in the bridge connecting the two,” said Governor Mills. “Bringing more people into the workforce will improve the lives of Maine people, improve outcomes for businesses, and strengthen our economy – all of which are crucial for Maine’s economic recovery.”

“Every jobseeker in Maine should have the opportunity to get the services and training they need to succeed,” said Laura Fortman, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Labor. “With this peer navigator program, Maine people will have the resources they need to connect their own community members, especially people that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, to employment and training opportunities to get back on their feet, which is key to our economy recovery.”

The Maine Department of Labor is requesting applications from interested organizations, which may include community organizations, worker groups, labor unions, or other non-profit organizations with close ties to underserved and under-represented communities within the workforce.

Interested applicants can find more information, including eligibility requirements, and apply at Proposal submissions must be received no later than 11:59 p.m. on February 4.