Joseph McDonnell of USM’s Muskie School of Public Service says increased higher education — with less student debt and more internships and apprenticeships — will help Maine prepare for a predicted smaller workforce.
The advice came in an op-ed column titled “Maine’s workforce challenges call for bold public strategies” and published in the Portland Press Herald.
McDonnell cited reports that forecast Maine’s labor force will decline by 5,000 unless several steps are taken to reverse the trend. Among them are bringing more immigrants to Maine, attracting students and young workers to Maine and increasing the skilled labor pool by getting more young people already in Maine to seek higher education. Currently 62 percent of Maine's high school graduates attend a community college or university, he wrote.
“Many of these strategies are already underway, although not at the scale required,” McDonnell wrote. “Even at scale, these measures may run into head winds because of the work world’s rapid disruption.”