Gov. Janet Mills has unveiled a $21 million program to expand training for Maine’s health-care workforce as part of an effort to alleviate chronic staffing shortages in one of the state’s largest industries.
The initiative, unveiled on Wednesday, calls for expanding access to free and low-cost career training programs to help retrain the state’s existing labor force and attract new workers.
Mills said the health-care sector is one of the state’s largest employers but said hospitals and nursing homes and other medical facilities are struggling under a shortage of workers. She said the problem has only been made worse by the pandemic.
“These new training programs will make it easier and more affordable for people, especially young people, to pursue careers in health care and move up the ladder into higher paying jobs, which supports our health-care employers and strengthens our health-care workforce in the long run,” Mills said in a statement.
Individuals and employers can sign up for training from employers and education partners, such as adult education programs, community colleges, and the state’s university system on the state’s new website.
Under the new program, they can then apply to get tuition assistance to enroll in training programs, or offer training to employees, at little or no cost.
Like most states, Maine is experiencing a shortage of health-care workers amid a prolonged hiring crunch, COVID-19 vaccine mandates and concerns about the ongoing pandemic.
Laura Fortman, commissioner of the Maine Department of Labor, said the initiative will be “a crucial resource for health-care employers and employees looking to advance their and their workforce’s skills.”
“Health-care training opportunities can now be found in one easy to navigate place, and health-care workers can potentially access career-advancing training with little to no cost to them or their employer,” she said.
The new program is the latest round of pandemic-related disbursements from Mills’ $1 billion Maine Jobs & Recovery plan, which is funded with federal relief money.
President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan in March, which provided direct payments to individuals and billions of dollars for states and local governments.
Maine got more than $4.5 billion from the pandemic relief package, including money for businesses and direct payments to residents and funding for local governments.
This article was originally posted on Mills unveils Maine’s health-care training program