Jun. 8—LEWISTON — The local workforce is set to receive a boost over the next two years in response to a state grant designed to spur growth for high-demand technical trades.
Lewiston Adult Education was one of 14 organizations to receive an apprenticeship grant from the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan this year. The program was awarded $1.3 million to develop preapprenticeship and apprenticeship opportunities in the field of health care, construction and manufacturing.
The state's goal is to more than double apprenticeship opportunities and to strengthen Maine's workforce by providing education and training in high-demand technical trades, said Jennifer Tiner, director of adult education.
Lewiston will use its grant to establish 150 new apprenticeships and over 300 new preapprenticeships through 2024. Tiner said the adult education program will collaborate with local employers to create opportunities for disadvantaged people in high-wage, high-demand jobs.
The program aims to target youth, ages 16 to 24; those who are unemployed; women; individuals with disabilities; Black, indigenous and people of color; and people who have been involved with the criminal justice system.
Tiner credited Razell Ward, assistant director of adult education, for writing the winning grant.
"Razell was incredibly instrumental in making this happen for our program and our community," Tiner said. "In fact, she'd only been on the job for less than a month when she started working on this grant application."
"A big thank you for thinking outside of the box and ... finding out what's out there," Superintendent Jake Langlais said.
"It's not just about $1.3 million, it's about the opportunity for 450 apprentice and preapprentice workers that can also go work in our community at businesses that are saying, 'we need labor,'" Langlais said. "Bridging that gap is just great for our community overall."
Apprenticeship programs offer young adults the opportunity to learn a skill or trade through paid, on-the-job training combined with classroom instruction. Preapprenticeship programs are designed to prepare individuals to enter and succeed in apprenticeship programs.